Just days before China is expected to launch its first manned space flight, a Chinese defence official has spoken about China's even more ambitious space programme.
This report from Louisa Lim:
These comments are a sign that Chinese ambitions in space go far beyond a manned space flight. A top defence official, Wang Shuquan, said China will conduct tests for a future lunar landing and the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper has described the next milestone after the manned space flight as sending a satellite to orbit the moon. This lunar orbiter would circle the moon for a year, gathering information about the moon's geology, soil, environment and natural resources.
In the past Chinese officials have even talked of the possibility of establishing a base on the moon.
But what happens to these plans is likely to depend on the success of China's manned space flight, and although no dates have been officially revealed, that's believed to be just days away. The speculation in the Chinese press is that it will blast off just after the plenary meeting of the Communist party's central committee which ends on October 14th.
A successful launch will spark an outpouring of national pride, boosting the credibility of the Communist party. Failure however would be a huge loss of face.
It's not yet known who China's first astronaut, or taikonaut, as they are called here, will be. But reports say fourteen would-be astronauts have arrived at the launch pad at Jiuquan in western Gansu province and are training inside the actual spacecraft.
LOUISA LIM, BBC NEWS, BEIJING
manned space flight
Vuelo espacial tripulado por seres humanos
Alunizaje, se produce cuando una nave espacial se posa exitosamente sobre la superficie lunar
Un evento o hito en la historia o en el desarrollo de algo
orbit the moon
Orbitar la Luna, cuando un objeto gira alrededor de la Luna
establishing a base
Establecer una base
Despegue hacia el espacio
spark an outpouring
En este caso, crear un fuerte sentimiento (de orgullo) dentro de la población china
loss of face
Astronauta, la persona que viaja en una nave espacial
Las personas que desean ser astronautas, pero que todavía no lo son