Apr 25, 2019 09:45 AM EDT
In an announcement, the China National Space Administration (CSNA) head, Zhang Kejian, has stated that they have plans to build a research station in the region of the moon's south pole. The potential project site is farther away from the six successful manned lunar missions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
CSNA stated that the details of China's long-term lunar plans are still in the works but they intend to back the plans up with their significant advances toward lunar exploration.
The Chinese have successfully landed one of their unmanned missions, Chang'e-4, on the far side of the moon on January 3, 2019. They have also assigned astronauts to their two temporary space stations namely Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. Both the temporary space stations were designed to be the testbed in preparation for future launches by the country.
Another plan of CNSA is to launch a larger permanent station into orbit for the years to come. The agency says that by the first half 2020 the first part of the permanent station would have reached the orbit aboard the
Long March-5B, which is a Chinese heavy-lift launch system developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).
CSNA points out that their mission is not in any way associated with the International Space Station (ISS). In fact, the ISS is reaching the end of its operational period. As such, the United States and China do not have cooperation in any space flight endeavors. The ISS is currently under the collaborative efforts of the U.S., Russia, Japan, Europe, and Canada.
During the public statement, Kejian also announced that another unmanned lunar lander, Chang'e-5, which was originally scheduled for launch in 2017, will be sent to attempt to reach the moon and return with samples in December 2019. The Chang'e-5, like its predecessors, was named after Chang'e, the Chinese moon goddess.
As of the moment, China has spent more on its space exploration efforts than any country in the world, not including the US.
However, momentarily, the US is not able to send manned missions to space without hitching a ride on rockets engineered by the Russians. For-profit rockets such as those owned by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), have been tapped for use, however, a few technical difficulties should first be addressed. SpaceX, founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2002, specializes in space transportation services.
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