Chinese officials revealed additional details about their plans for a human lunar trip on Wednesday, as China aims to become only the second country to land people on the moon.
According to state-run news agency Xinhua, Zhang Hailian, deputy chief engineer with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), unveiled the preliminary proposal on Wednesday during an aerospace summit in Wuhan.
The mission, which is scheduled to take place before 2030, is part of a larger proposal to create a lunar research base. It will research the optimal way to construct the facility, as well as perform moon exploration activities and other tests, according to Zhang.
According to the state-run Global Times, two launch vehicles will send a moon surface lander and a manned spaceship into lunar orbit before docking with each other. After docking, the Chinese astronauts on board the spaceship will board the lander, which will take them to the moon’s surface.
They will collect samples and conduct “scientific exploration” on the moon before reconnecting with the spacecraft waiting in orbit, which will take them back to Earth, according to Global Times.
Collecting Lunar Rock Samples as the Third Nation
China became the third country to successfully deploy a rover on the moon in 2013. Chinese President Xi Jinping stated at the time that “the space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger.”
China has spent billions of dollars on its ambitious space program under Xi’s leadership. While no official numbers on Beijing’s spending in space exploration are available, consultancy firm Euroconsult projected it to be around $5.8 billion in 2019.
China dispatched a rover to the far side of the moon that year, a historic first. Then, in 2020, it became only the third country to successfully gather lunar rock samples.