China's President Hails Military, Scientists for Moon Probe's Success

China Insists There's No Asia Space Race
In this photo released by China's official Xinhua news agency, China's first moon orbiter Chang'e 1 lifts off from the launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan province, on Wednesday October 24, 2007. (Image credit: AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Gang.)

BEIJING (AP)—President HuJintao congratulated China's military and scientists at a ceremony Wednesday tocelebrate the successful launch of a moon probe.

Hu devoted much of a livenationwide television broadcast to praising the country's socialist system,along with its military and scientific community, for ensuring the success ofthe Chang'e1 lunar satellite.

China launched the probe inlate October with plans to have it survey the entire surface of the moon overthe next year. It begansending photos back to Earth several weeks ago.

"Ourdeep-space exploration is for peaceful purposes,'' Hu told an audience ofCommunist Party officials, schoolchildren and military officers gathered atBeijing's Great Hall of the People.

"The peacefulexploration and development of outer space is a common cause of mankind,'' Husaid.

The launch of the Chang'eclosely followed the start of a similar mission by Japan, prompting speculationover a new space race in Asia. India plans to launch a lunar probe in April.

In 2003, China became onlythe third country in the world after the United States and Russia to send ahuman into Earth's orbit, following that with a two-manmission in 2005.

In January, China alarmedthe international community when it blasted apart an old satellite in spaceusing a land-based missile.

Despite that, Hu repeatedChina's assertions that it hoped to join multinational space exploration,including the international space station.

"The Chinese peopleare willing to join with all other people to go along the road of peacefulutilization of outer space and cooperate in international space exploration,''he said.

The Chang'e 1 satellite, slunginto space by a Long March 3A rocket, will survey the moon's surface usingstereo radar and other tools as a precursor to a planned lunar landing in 2012and a mission to gather lunar samples by 2020.


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