China's President Hails Military, Scientists for Moon Probe's Success
BEIJING (AP)—President Hu Jintao congratulated China's military and scientists at a ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the successful launch of a moon probe.
Hu devoted much of a live nationwide television broadcast to praising the country's socialist system, along with its military and scientific community, for ensuring the success of the Chang'e 1 lunar satellite.
China launched the probe in late October with plans to have it survey the entire surface of the moon over the next year. It began sending photos back to Earth several weeks ago.
"The peaceful exploration and development of outer space is a common cause of mankind,'' Hu said.
The launch of the Chang'e closely followed the start of a similar mission by Japan, prompting speculation over a new space race in Asia. India plans to launch a lunar probe in April.
In 2003, China became only the third country in the world after the United States and Russia to send a human into Earth's orbit, following that with a two-man mission in 2005.
In January, China alarmed the international community when it blasted apart an old satellite in space using a land-based missile.
Despite that, Hu repeated China's assertions that it hoped to join multinational space exploration, including the international space station.
"The Chinese people are willing to join with all other people to go along the road of peaceful utilization of outer space and cooperate in international space exploration,'' he said.
The Chang'e 1 satellite, slung into space by a Long March 3A rocket, will survey the moon's surface using stereo radar and other tools as a precursor to a planned lunar landing in 2012 and a mission to gather lunar samples by 2020.
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