China National Space Administration (CNSA) has completed testing the engines for its new generation of kerosene/liquid oxygen-fuelled boosters for space.

The CNSA successfully tested two engines - the 264,000lb-thrust (1,176kN) first-stage and 110,000lb-thrust upper-stage powerplants, but it may not launch them from the proposed Huinan launch complex in south-east China.

Speaking at an Italian space agency/European Space Agency workshop on international co-operation for sustainable exploration workshop on 30 May, CNSA said the next generation launcher is expected to place 25,000kg (55,000lb) into low Earth orbit and 9,000kg into geostationary transfer orbit.

"It is not yet decided about Huinan. We need a low latitude, but we need to consider the new launch vehicles. They will have to be transported by sea to the launch pad," says Wang Keran, deputy director of CNSA's international relations department.

Wang described the new launcher as "similar to the Ariane 5" and much wider in diameter than the European rocket's 5m (16.3ft).

At the cooperation meeting the CNSA also described its lunar plans. China's first robotic lunar mission, Chang'e-1, is to be launched in October.

It will take stereo images of the Moon's surface. CNSA has a collaboration agreement with ESA for tracking during the mission and Wang says China was ready to share the mission's scientific data with other countries.

Chang'e-1 is the first in a three-stage programme, with the second and third stages involving a lunar rover and then a sample return mission.

There has been media speculation about a Chinese manned mission to the Moon. But senior Chinese space programme officials told the International Academy of Astronautics' humans in space symposium in Beijing last month that no date had been set for a human mission.

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