BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- China plans to measure every inch of the soil
of the moon in its planned lunar probe program, said Ouyang Ziyuan, chief
scientist of the program.
By measuring the soil of the moon we can figure out the exact amount of
helium-3, a resource for nuclear fusion, said Ouyang.
Earlier reports said China's first lunar orbiter, Chang'e I, would most
likely be launched in the second half of 2007.
Addressing a recent a forum for young workers in the provincial government
departments in southwest China's Guizhou Province, Ouyang said there is about 15
tons of helium-3 on earth, while the volume of helium-3 on the moon is estimated
at 1 to 5 million tons.
"When obtaining nuclear power from helium-3 becomes a reality, the resource
on the moon can be used to generate electricity for more than ten thousand years
for the whole world," Ouyang said.
China's moon exploration program will be carried out in three stages--
"circling the moon", "landing on the moon" and "back to earth", said Ouyang.
In the first phase China will launch an orbiter for preliminary exploration
of the moon, in the second phase it will send a moon rover for precise probe in
some area, and in the third phase lunar samples will be brought back to earth.
China carried out its maiden piloted space flight in October 2003, making
it the third country in the world following the Soviet Union and the United
States to have put men into space. In October 2005 China completed its second
manned space flight, with two astronauts on board.