By Akhilesh Chandrasekhar, BBC News, Beijing
The head of China’s space programme says China is not a threat to the rest of the world.
Li Baocheng, chairman of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, said it was carrying out the country’s development “at twice the speed” of the US.
He told a press conference in Beijing: “There is a great contest at the forefront of international politics.”
He said China was striving to be a fully-fledged space-faring nation by the mid-2020s.
According to satellite images released by Planet Labs last month, China now has a space telescope capable of detecting the most distant objects in space.
The GALEX mission, also in December, saw the Chinese lander Yutu land on the far side of the moon for the first time in history.
Chinese experts and a number of American experts expressed scepticism that China had already achieved all its stated space goals.
Last month the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) said it had detected a solar flare coming from the sun which had emanated from a huge area of the sky in the northern hemisphere.
It said it was strongly suspected to have been produced by China, but Chinese experts denied this and suggested there had been a mixture of sun spots and disturbances.
China’s space programme was first focused on developing a space station but officials said in 2012 they had also begun to consider a manned lunar mission.
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