My dad tells me, “According to Chinese media, China will send an astronaut to the orbit within the next 18 months. Before 2010, China is committed to moon landing. By the end of this century, there will be a ‘Chinese Moon City’.”
It’s interesting to hear what the Chinese media are saying – I imagine it’s all state-sanctioned, of course, but it’s still direct. Anyway, it’s entirely possible that China could send up its first ‘taikonaut’ next year – its Shenzhou spacecraft have fared well in recent tests.
As for a Moon landing, the question to ask is whether they mean a manned landing; if so, that’ll require a real industrial effort. Not quite on par with Apollo, since we have a lot of stuff now that they didn’t have back then, like fast computers, for example, but it’d still cost quite a lot. I think China could manage it if they really wanted to, not that I see the point of a manned Moon landing as opposed to, say, a manned asteroid landing (aside from politics, naturally).
An unmanned landing is comparatively easy, and certainly attainable in the next eight years. And considering that we can’t predict what the world will be like in 2050, let alone 2100, I think that a Chinese Moonbase is definitely within the realm of possibility within this century – as is a Chinese Marbase, a base on Europa, nuclear-powered spacecraft, etc etc.