China plans manned Moon mission by end of decade
China is planning to send astronauts to the Moon by 2030, Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), announced on Monday. He added that the mission would focus on mastering manned space flight technology and prepare the groundwork for further lunar exploration.
Announcing the plans at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwest of the country, Lin revealed China is aiming to “carry out scientific exploration and related technological demonstrations on the lunar surface,” as well as to hone technology linked to manned roundtrips. He said a Moon landing was being targeted by 2030, but did not give a more precise timeframe.
Lin stated that the CMSA intends to “develop a commutation and short-term stay system for crews [on the Moon]” while exploring opportunities for human-robot integrated testing.
Chinese astronauts will also conduct moonwalks, collect samples, and carry out research, the space official stated.
Lin noted that China has already deployed a “near-Earth human space station and human round-trip transportation system,” referring to the Tiangong facility. The station was finished last November, and is currently circling the planet in a low orbit with a crew of three.
Should the lunar mission be successful, “this will lead off our manned missions from low-Earth orbit to deep space and help deepen mankind’s knowledge about the origin and evolution of the Moon and the solar system,” Lin said.
China is developing the necessary hardware to fulfill its ambitions, including a next-generation rocket which is expected to make its maiden flight in 2027, according to officials.
Earlier this year, NASA administrator Bill Nelson described Washington and Beijing as entering a “space race” after the US announced plans to put American astronauts back on the Moon in 2025.
Nelson acknowledged that Beijing’s space program had achieved “enormous success” in recent years, but warned that China could lay claim to parts of the Moon.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry dismissed those suggestions, saying it is engaged in “normal and reasonable outer space endeavors.” Beijing accused the US of waging a “smear campaign” targeting China’s space aspirations.