China reveals its moon mission plans

China actually just announced its own plans to get people on the moon before 2030.

China reveals its moon mission plans
The Zhuque-2 carrier rocket, a methane-liquid oxygen rocket by Chinese company LandSpace, takes off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, near Jiuquan, Gansu province, China July 12, 2023. cnsphoto via REUTERS

Only one country has put humans on the moon – the US And, honestly, it’s been a hot minute since NASA got someone there. More than 50 years, actually.

Recently, NASA has been cranking out news stories as it works on returning humans to the moon with its future Artemis missions. These missions are supposed to be the first to land both a person of color and a woman on the lunar surface. With NASA developing a lot of new tech since its last lunar landing in 1972, these missions will explore more of the moon in new ways. Its target liftoff date is in 2025.

And China actually just announced its own plans to get people on the moon before 2030. It would be the second country to get someone up there, with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) revealing its plan in Wuhan on Wednesday. It’ll involve two rockets – one carrying the astronauts and the other carrying the lunar lander, which will get the astronauts onto the moon after the rockets enter its orbit. The whole twin-rocket thing is a way to get past the challenge of creating a single rocket powerful enough to carry both astronauts and a lander probe.

This mission is part of a larger project to set up a lunar research station. Its goals are to explore the best way to build this kind of station setup. According to Zhang Hailian, deputy chief engineer at the CMSA’s Engineering Office, this station would be used to run “systematic and continuous lunar exploration and related technology [tests].” By the mid-2030s, China and Russia plan to have a joint moon base, too.

In 2013, after China successfully landed a rover on the moon, President Xi Jinping said, “The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger.” So this mission is definitely part of China’s long-term plan to explore the possibilities of outer space.

As humanity returns to the moon, these space agencies are looking to see how these missions could also help us on our way to Mars.