China has announced an ambitious five-year plan to explore outer space. The plan includes China's previously-stated goals of putting a man on the moon and building a space station. As per its ambitious plan, China will deploy space laboratories, launch manned spaceships and space freighters, and make technological preparations for the construction of space station by the end of 2016. It should be noted that China has already made sound progress in space exploration and research but it still lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience.
White Paper on Space Activities: The white paper issued by China, titled "China's Space Activities in 2011" was the third white paper on the country's space activities, following the one in 2000 and another in 2006. The white paper outlines China's ambitious space programme for next five years. Major tasks listed in the white paper for the next five years include space transportation system, Earth satellites, human spaceflights, and deep-space exploration. Further, China also plans to launch the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spaceships and achieve unmanned or manned rendezvous and docking with the in-orbit Tiangong-1 vehicle. As an important part of deep-space exploration, China's lunar probe projects follow the idea of "three steps" - orbiting, landing, and returning. In next five years, China is also planning to launch orbiters for lunar soft landing, roving and surveying to implement the second stage of lunar exploration, and then it will start the third-stage project of sampling the moon's surface matters and get those samples back to Earth. Another notable goal of the five year plan is to further develop the Beidou Navigation Satellite System. China intends to have a global system of 35 navigation satellites by the year 2020 and if China is able to meet this goal, China would joint Russia in having a system that tries to rival America's. China has already launched 10 satellites for the Beidou system, and plans to launch six more next year. Beidou is not as advanced as its American counterpart, but it is expected to overshadow the Russian system and would provide the Chinese military with an alternative to relying on a civilian version of the American network. Beidou would also be used for civilian purposes, like providing drivers with a navigation tool.