China plans to build a manned ‘lunar palace’ powered by the sun to explore the moon and act as a launchpad for missions to Mars
- The lunar outpost is expected to have multiple tube-shaped cabins that link up
- It will be a ‘scientific research’ base that is primarily fuelled by solar power
- China’s space administration hopes to land astronauts on the moon in 2030
- The agency released a video about the ‘lunar palace’ to Chinese media this week
China plans to build a manned ‘lunar palace’ that will probe the moon for resources and act as a launchpad for missions to Mars.
The outpost is expected to have multiple tube-shaped cabins that link up and provide oxygen to people inside, according to a video seen by Chinese media.
The ‘scientific research’ base, which will be primarily fuelled by solar power, marks the latest step in Beijing’s ambitious space programme.
China’s National Space Administration hopes to land astronauts on the moon in 2030, with the goal of examining the lunar poles.
There is currently no date for when the lunar outpost will be ready.
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China plans to build a manned ‘lunar palace’ that will probe the moon for resources and act as a launchpad for missions to Mars (artist’s impression)
‘In the future, we will explore the lunar poles and build a science research station,’ the agency said in video which outlines the new plans.
‘We believe that the Chinese nation’s dream of residing in a “lunar palace” will soon become a reality.
‘In the new space era, our nation will aim farther in space than the moon and explore Mars.’
China is using its economic might to pursue an aggressive space programme as it strives to narrow the gap with the United States in space exploration.
Last April, a Chinese space official said Beijing was discussing a future moon outpost with the European Space Agency, but few details later emerged.
The country’s first manned space mission launched in 2003, with astronaut Yang Liwei completing 14 orbits of Earth before returning to the planet.
The outpost is expected to have multiple tube-shaped cabins (pictured) that link up and provide oxygen to people inside, according to a video seen by Chinese media
Four years later the National Space Administration fired its first robotic probes to the moon. The agency has since carried out several lunar missions.
Its fourth lunar probe is set to be launched by the end of this year, with a destination set for the dark side of the moon.
Chinese scientists hope the probe will improve observations into deep space.
Another lunar probe scheduled for next year will collect soil samples and take them back to Earth.
Wang Liheng, a senior space scientist, said that China’s lunar palace would follow successful probes and manned space mission.
The ‘scientific research’ base (interior pictured) will be primarily fuelled by solar power and marks the latest step in Beijing’s ambitious space programme
China is using its economic might to pursue an aggressive space programme as it strives to narrow the gap with the United States in space exploration. Pictured is an artist’s impression of the new base
‘The first step, our researchers suggest, will be sending our astronauts to the moon to perform short-term explorations,’ he told state-run news outlet China Daily.
Mr Wang, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said a manned lunar station would help scientists explore how to exploit the moon’s resources.
It could also provide a starting point for future manned missions to Mars.
Mr Wang told the state broadcaster China Central Television: ‘Let’s get a person on the moon before we go deeper into space, with the next target being Mars.’
The country’s first manned space mission launched in 2003, with astronaut Yang Liwei (pictured) completing 14 orbits of Earth before returning to the planet
In 2007 China’s National Space Administration fired its first robotic probes to the moon and the agency has since carried out several lunar missions
China’s moon landing: How Project Yuegong 365 will create a ‘lunar palace’
China started the year-long ‘Yuegong 365’ project on May 10, 2017.
The project’s main equipment, the ‘Yuegong-1’ simulator, is situated on the campus of Beihang University, a Beijing-based institute specialised in teaching and researching on aerospace technologies.
‘Yuegong-1’ is the first self-sustaining ecosystem China has designed and built that provides everything humans need to survive in an environment similar to that of a spacecraft in the outer space, according to Chinese website sciencenet.cn.
A Chinese worker watches an LCD screen to monitor Chinese volunteers in the sealed, self-contained laboratory simulating a moon-like environment, called ‘Yuegong-1’
Two men and two women entered for an initial stay of 60 days on May 10, 2017.
On July 9, they were relieved by another group of four, who stayed 200 days.
The second group of students came out on January 26, 2018, and the initial group will now return for an additional 105, Xinhua said.
The newly released volunteers are currently under hospital observation.
A Chinese volunteer is pictured talking to journalists through a telephone while staying in ‘Yuegong-1’, whose name is translated as ‘Lunar Palace’ in English
The ‘Lunar Palace’ has two plant cultivation modules and a living cabin: 42 square metres (452 square feet) containing four sleeping cubicles, a common room, a bathroom, a waste-treatment room and a room for raising animals.
During a interview with Reuters, chief designer Liu Hong said they had designed the simulator in a way that the oxygen would be exactly enough to satisfy the humans, the animals, and the organisms that break down the waste materials.
Liu also explained that the oxygen would be produced by plants inside the station.
A successful 105-day trial was already conducted in 2014.
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