(CNN) – On Wednesday, Chinese officials released new details about their plans to send a manned mission to the moon, as China attempts to become the second country to put citizens on the lunar surface.
Zhang Hailian, deputy chief engineer of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), revealed the preliminary plan at the Space Summit in Wuhan on Wednesday, According to the New China News Agency (Xinhua).
The mission, which is expected to take place before 2030, is part of a project to establish a lunar research station. Zhang said it will research the best way to build such a facility and carry out lunar exploration missions and other experiments.
Two launch vehicles will send a lander to the lunar surface and a manned spacecraft to lunar orbit, before docking with each other, according to the Global Times run by the state. After docking, the Chinese astronauts aboard the spacecraft will enter the probe, which is used to descend to the lunar surface.
While on the lunar surface, the Global Times reports, they will collect samples and conduct “scientific exploration” before departing on the lander and rejoining the spacecraft waiting in orbit, which will take them back to Earth.
To prepare for the mission, Chinese researchers are busy developing all the necessary equipment, including lunar suits, manned spacecraft, manned spacecraft and lunar landers.
State media reports did not say how many astronauts China plans to send to the moon.
The lunar mission is the latest development in China’s efforts to advance its space programme, which has seen several breakthroughs in recent years.
Chinese space race
China fell behind in the space race: It didn’t put its first satellite into orbit until 1970, when the United States had already put an astronaut on the moon, but Beijing is catching up quickly.
in 2013, China successfully landed a roverbecoming the third country to do so. At the time, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that “the dream of space is part of the dream of making China stronger.”
Under Xi’s leadership, China has spent billions on its ambitious space programme. While there are no public official figures on Beijing’s investment in space explorationConsulting firm Euroconsult estimated that it was about $5.8 billion in 2019.
That year, China sent a rover on the far side of the moon, which is a historical precedent. Then, in 2020, it became the third country to successfully collect rock samples from the moon.
China has also spent the past few years building its own Tiangong space station, which was completed in November. The station is only the second operational orbital base, along with the International Space Station (ISS), which Chinese astronauts have long been denied entry due to US political objections and legislative restrictions.
But the International Space Station is expected to end operations in 2030, which could leave Tiangong as the only remaining outpost. China has sought to open its station to cooperation with international partners, including by hosting experiments from other countries.
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