China is likely to expand its horizon in space travel by possible Mars exploration, expert said.
After the unmanned Chang'e-3
successfully completed its soft-landing on the moon, people from both home and abroad have been wondering whether China will send probes to Mars, which has become a key goal for many foreign space organizations.
According to the chief designer of China's lunar probe program, Wu Weiren, China is ready.
"We have the potential to go there in the wake of the successes of the Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions," Wu said at a news conference held in Beijing on Tuesday, adding that the final decision is up to the government, Xinhua News Agency reported.
"We follow our own approach that respects stable progress and dislikes rash and reckless moves," he said. "We don't want to compete with any country in this regard."
Wu added that the Long March-5 rocket series with the maximum thrust of 1,100 tons can ensure the sending of a Martian probe.
"In terms of the carrying capacity of the rocket and the tracking and control system, China is capable of sending Martian probes," Pang Zhihao, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Pang said that the two deep space monitoring stations in China have shown their ability tracking Chang'e 2, which is about 64 million kilometers from Earth.
"But China still needs to build deep space monitoring stations abroad to make up for blind measurements to track deep space detectors round the clock," Pang said.
Furthermore, as scientists around the world have been exploring the possibility of living on the moon, the research on bioregenerative life support systems, which hold much promise for planetary bases, has been conducted in China.
The Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics has recently been praised for its work on closed ecological systems suitable for growing plants in outer space, according to the university's website.
Wu also noted that compared with the US spending 2 to 2.5 percent of GDP on its lunar exploration program at that time, China's input - only a few ten-thousands of the country's GDP - is not very much.
Besides, only about 40 percent of the 118 lunar probe attempts by the US and the Soviet Union during the space race in the 1960s and 1970s had been successful, while China's Chang'e-1 to Chang'e-3 missions have all succeeded, he said.
Although China has not officially announced any intention to fly a human mission to the moon, the door is now open and - if they have the will - nothing will stand in their way, said James Longuskian, associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics .