Space Coast congressional representatives Sandy Adams and Bill Posey have claimed that China has surpassed the United States in space capability and has "plans to colonize the Moon," according to Posey.
Back in the reality-based world, China has not launched taikonauts into space since September 2008. Their last human-related flight was Shenzhou 8 in late October, sending two test dummies to rendezvous with a space station prototype model.
SpacePolicyOnline.com reported today that China has issued a white paper summarizing their space policy — updating similar reports issued in 2000 and 2006.
China issued a new "white paper" today describing the achievements of its space program over the past 5 years and outlining its plans for the next 5 years. China issued such white papers in 2000 and 2006, and the 2011 version offers little that is new.
According to the English-language version published on Xinhua's website, China has relatively modest plans for its space program, most of which were previously known. No ground-breaking plans were revealed.
Click here for the complete text of the white paper.
The section titled "Major Tasks for the Next Five Years" begins:
In the next five years, China will strengthen its basic capacities of the space industry, accelerate research on leading-edge technology, and continue to implement important space scientific and technological projects, including human spaceflight, lunar exploration, high-resolution Earth observation system, satellite navigation and positioning system, new-generation launch vehicles, and other priority projects in key fields. China will develop a comprehensive plan for construction of space infrastructure, promote its satellites and satellite applications industry, further conduct space science research, and push forward the comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development of China's space industry.
Section 3, "Human Spaceflight," states:
China will push forward human spaceflight projects and make new technological breakthroughs, creating a foundation for future human spaceflight.
It will launch the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spaceships and achieve unmanned or manned rendezvous and docking with the in-orbit Tiangong-1 vehicle.
China will launch space laboratories, manned spaceship and space freighters; make breakthroughs in and master space station key technologies, including astronauts' medium-term stay, regenerative life support and propellant refueling; conduct space applications to a certain extent and make technological preparations for the construction of space stations.
China will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing.
China is expected sometime in 2012 to send three taikonauts to dock with a space station testbed module currently in orbit, but after that the Chinese may not launch another orbiting platform until the end of the decade.