A graphic simulation shows the orbiter and returner combination of China's Chang'e 5 probe after its separation from the ascender. (HANDOUT / CHINA NATIONAL SPACE ADMINISTRATION / XINHUA)
All of China's activities in outer space are intended for the country's social, economic and technological development rather than for the "space race" with other nations, said insiders in China's space industry.
"We carry out spaceflights to develop high technology and improve economic growth and people's living standard. We don't take part in the space race with any other countries because competition in this regard is meaningless," said Yang Yuguang, a senior space industry observer in Beijing and vice-chair of the International Astronautical Federation's space transportation committee.
Yang made the remarks to refute NASA Administrator Bill Nelson's recent claims that there has already been a space race between the United States and China and that China is likely to dominate the field of lunar exploration and keep the US out
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"If some people are so fond of the space race, then it is their own space race and we will not get involved," he said on Tuesday in Beijing. "In terms of moon landing, it is our business to decide when we will send our astronauts there, and it is none of any other's country's business. And when others will land their people on the moon, that too is none of China's business."
Yang made the remarks to refute NASA Administrator Bill Nelson's recent claims that there has already been a space race between the United States and China and that China is likely to dominate the field of lunar exploration and keep the US out.
According to plans made by the China National Space Administration, the country intends to send its Chang'e 6 robotic mission to the moon's far side and then collect and bring samples back. After that, the Chang'e 7 and 8 unmanned spacecraft are scheduled to land on the moon's south pole to establish a science outpost.
"We've chosen the south pole as the location of our future research station and that means we will deploy our probes there. But that should not be translated into 'Chinese occupation' of the region," Yang said. "As long as your spacecraft will not affect the safety of ours, you can place them anywhere you wish, but if you deliberately land a spacecraft very close to ours and its engines' blaze damages our equipment, then such acts are nothing but provocations."
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Wang Yanan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said the nature of China's space activities is peaceful as the nation has never wanted to use its space endeavours to harm other countries.
"Nelson seems to enjoy his personal hobby of sensationalizing 'China's threat in space'. I don't know exact reasons behind his move but I am convinced that it is largely related to money, or more specifically, his struggle for more funds to his agency," he said.