China plans to send a manned mission to the Moon, state media reported Wednesday. They also want to build a Moon base near the south pole within a decade.
The China National Space Administration (CSNA) intends to build the research station in the region of the Moon’s south pole, Zhang Kejian, head of CSNA, said in a public statement.
He also added that Beijing plans to launch a Mars probe by 2020 and confirmed that a fourth lunar probe, the Chang’e-5, will be launched by the end of the year.
China will launch the Chang’e-5 lunar probe to collect and return lunar samples back to Earth, Zhang said.
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The Chinese space agency has previously discussed plans to replace the International Space Station when it’s retired in 2024 or to set up a base on the Moon. So, it now plans to launch the first parts of the space station next year and the lunar and Mars probes later this year.
China on Wednesday also announced its Long March-5B rocket will make its flight in the first half of 2020. It will carry the core parts of a planned space station.
The Tiangong—or “Heavenly Palace”—will go into orbit in 2022, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said. It is set to replace the International Space Station—a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan.
China’s intentions are to become a space superpower. In January, it became the first nation to land a rover on the far side of the Moon in January.
China joined the space club on April 24, 1970, when the Long March-1 carrier rocket launched the country’s first satellite, Dongfanghong-1, into orbit.
Thumbnail image: China became the first nation to land a rover on the Moon’s far side in January 2019.