BEIJING, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- China hasn't set any specific timetable for the development of a space station, a spokesman with China National Space Administration (CNSA) said here Wednesday.
"According to the national outline for mid- and long-term scientific and technological development, and the outline for space technology development during the 11th-five-year period (2006-2010) issued by the State Council on May 10 this year, China will focus on manned space flight and lunar exploration in the near future," Li Guoping, the CNSA spokesman, told a press conference.
"No plans issued by the government so far has said we are going to develop a space station," Li said.
The China Daily reported Wednesday, citing a top rocket expert, that China is well on track to launching its own space station by 2020.
Long Lehao, a leading designer of Long March 3A, the launch vehicle for the country's first lunar probe Chang'e-1, said it is the first time the timetable to be made public for the launch of China's first space station, the third and final step of the country's current manned space program.
China has been implementing a three-stage manned space flight program, which was set up in 1992.
It has completed the first stage of the program, which is about sending unmanned spacecraft and a manned spacecraft into near-earth orbit, conducting observations of the earth and scientific experiments in space, and bringing the astronaut safely back to the earth.
China has successfully carried out two manned space missions during the last four years, including the first by Shenzhou V, with China's first taikonaut Yang Liwei on it, in 2003.
In the second stage, China plans to make more breakthroughs in manned space mission, such as manned space flight carrying more than one person and lasting more than one day, space walking of astronauts, and docking between capsule and space module.
On this basis, China will put in orbit a space laboratory attended to by humans for short periods and establish a fully-equipped space engineering system.
The launch of Shenzhou VI is a major mark of the beginning of the second stage, scientists said.
In the third stage, China will build a permanent space station and a space engineering system. Astronauts and scientists will travel between the earth and the space station to conduct scientific experiments of larger scale.
Li said the currently operational International Space Station, jointly built by 16 nations, including the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, Brazil and 11 member countries of the European Space Agency, has provided convenience for space experiment.
"Chinese scientists are willing to participate in the experiments carried out in the International Space Station," he said, adding that the CNSA supports the participation in relevant activities in the International Space Station, under the principles of equality, mutual benefit, peaceful use and mutual development.