China is continuing its space plans, they have unveiled a 5 year white paper that calls for getting Chinese astronauts on the moon, which would make China the first nation to visit since the U.S. which was 40+ years ago.
â€œChina will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing,â€ the State Council white paper says, also calling for deep-space exploration of planets and asteroids. There is not a set timeline for moonshot but it is seen as an official declaration of Chinaâ€™s lunar goals.
China is building its own prototype space station, the Tiangong 1, they have already mapped the moon with the Changâ€™e-1 lunar probe, and they have plans to send the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft to dock with Tiangong-1 in 2012.
“Since 2006, Long March rockets have accomplished 67 successful launches, sending 79 spacecraft into planned orbits and demonstrating noteworthy improvement in the reliability of China’s launch vehicles,” the white paper states.
Although the space program is backed by the People’s Liberation Army, the paper says it’s entirely peaceful: “China always adheres to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes weaponization or any arms race in outer space.”
One thing is for sure whoever gets to the next gets to claim some cool stuff including the Apollo 17â€™s lunar rover that was left there in 1972.