01:44 GMT30 September 2020
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    On Monday, China asked the public for submissions of innovative design ideas for the country’s own version of a manned lunar exploration mission currently being planned.

    According to Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program, the goal is to find innovative ideas for the design of manned lunar surface landing and ascent vehicles. 

    "Manned lunar exploration is an important part of the manned space program," Zhou said recently, Asia Times reported. "The public is welcome to provide their ideas for the development of the Chinese space program."

    In June 2017, Yang Liwei, the first Chinese national in space and the director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, announced that China was gearing up for a manned lunar exploration mission.

    Yang also confirmed that the mission would consist of a manned spaceship, a propulsion vehicle and a lunar lander, the vehicle that will actually alight with its passengers on the moon. China is also reportedly planning on developing rockets with enough power to catapult space shuttles into space, Yang added. 

    "The space station we are going to build is, in fact, a state-level space experimental platform that will serve researchers in their experiments and serve our economy, society and the whole humanity. The demands for such astronauts are, therefore, getting increasingly higher," Yang said in January, GBTimes reported.

    On Tuesday, Yang also told reporters that China has started the process of selecting at least 17 new astronauts for missions to the planned Chinese Space Station, which is expected to be launched around 2019.

    "The selection consists of three periods, and we will select not only males but also female candidates for the third batch of astronauts," Yang told reporters April 23.

    "The scope will cover not only pilots from the People's Liberation Army-Air Force, but also flight engineers and scientists from related industries, universities and institutions," Yang added.


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