From Space Daily:
China’s moon exploration program is divided into three phases — “circling the moon”, “landing on the moon” and “back to earth”, said Sun.
The launch of the orbiter is the first phase of China’s moon exploration program, and the second phase will involve the launching of a moon rover, he said.
Earlier reports said the moon rover will be launched around 2012.
In the third phase, another rover will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples, Sun said.
“Space technology reflects a nation’s overall power and is an important facet of the modernization of national defense,” he said.
Sun said China is able to research, produce and shoot ground-to-ground, air defense and coastal defense missiles, and its strategic nuclear deterrent is a key component of China’s national defense.
“As late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping pointed out, if China had no atomic bombs or hydrogen bombs and had not launched its first satellite since the 1960s, China could not be called an influential country and would not enjoy the same international status,” he said
The defense capability gainsÂ that will created by the moon launches is another way to close the military superiority gap in conventional and non-conventional forces with the US.