Science & Technology

China mulls manned lunar mission by 2027

Beijing, Jan 28 (EFE).- China is planning to carry a manned mission to Moon in the next five years, said the Chinese space agency on Friday.

According to a white paper on “China’s Space Program: A 2021 Perspective,” the space agency would continue to explore the Moon’s polar regions, a place believed to contain water ice, especially in the deep, permanent shadows of some mountains and craters.

The 2027 deadline appears too soon for the ambitious program.

But Chinese lunar program designer and engineer Ye Peijian last November said a crewed Moon landing was “entirely possible by 2030.”

The white paper, published Friday by the state-run Xinhua news agency, said that China would “continue studies and research on the plan for a human lunar landing” in the next five years.

Towards that end, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) would “develop new-generation manned spacecraft, and research key technologies to lay a foundation for exploring and developing cislunar space (volume within the Moon’s orbit).”

The initiative is part of the country’s ambitious lunar exploration plan after its probes landed on the far side of the Moon in 2019 and brought back samples last year.

China will launch the Chang’e-6 lunar probe to collect and bring back samples from the Moon’s polar regions and launch the Chang’e-7 to perform a precise landing there and “a hopping detection” in a lunar shadowed area, the paper said.

Liu Jizhong, director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center, told reporters that Chang’e-6 would bring new samples from the Moon regions of high value, and Chang’e-7 would probe the water distribution on the Moon.

China recently approved the fourth phase of its Moon exploration program, which includes constructing a scientific exploration base at the south pole of the satellite in the next decade, a task for which it will collaborate with Russia.

Liu said China had signed an agreement with Russia for a collaborative lunar exploration with the Chang’e-7 probe and Russia’s “luna-26” orbiter.

After signing the cooperation agreement with Moscow last year, Chinese lunar exploration program chief designer Wu Weiren said if the lunar research station project was successfully implemented, China would not be far from a manned landing on the Moon.

According to Xinhua, the Chinese plans to land astronauts on the Moon are the equivalent of the US project ‘Artemis’ that has the same goal for 2024.

The white paper also revealed the country’s technological preparations for Mars sampling and return, exploration of the Jupiter system, and boundary exploration of the solar system.

Back to near-Earth orbits, China plans to launch, in the next five years, two experimental modules and a space telescope, complete its space station, build a space lab onboard, and carry out large-scale scientific experiments with astronauts on long-term assignments. EFE


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