Press briefing featured China space officials.
Credit: XinhuaVideo/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China space planners are outlining future space exploration goals, bolstered by the success of their Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission.

Credit: XinhuaVideo/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, said the country plans to build a prototype for a scientific research station at the south pole of the Moon by 2030.

Moon missions

In a China Daily report, Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said Chang’e-6 will collect samples from the Moon’s south pole or possibly sample the farside of the Moon.

Queqiao relay spacecraft is in a halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system, utilized to set up a communication link between the Earth and the Moon’s farside.
Credit: CNSA

The Chang’e-6 farside destination will depend on a still-functioning Queqiao relay satellite, Wu said, now in use to support the Chang’e-4 lander/Yutu-2 rover that continues to explore the farside of the Moon since January 2019. Queqiao, was stationed in a halo orbit near the Earth-Moon L2 point in June 2018 to enable communications between the Chang’e-4 mission on the lunar farside and the Earth.

At a Chinese Foreign Ministry press briefing that focused on the success of the Chang’e-5 lunar sample mission, Wu also noted that the Chang’e-7 and Chang’e-8 missions will investigate the technological viability of international cooperation to establish a robotic scientific research outpost on the Moon in the coming 15 years.

China’s space station scheduled to be operational in 2020’s.
Photo credit: CMSA

Space Station

As to whether China will undertake manned lunar missions, Wu said the decision will be made after the nation puts its crewed space station into service, which is scheduled to take place in 2022.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Wu also stated at the December 17 press event that 2021-2022 will be extremely busy, according to China’s Xinhua news service.

Wu said a total of 11 missions are planned to put in place China’s space station, including the construction of the core module that is set to be launched in the first half of next year, two lab capsules, as well as four piloted craft and four cargo craft.

Go to these recently released videos:

— We plan to build a prototype for a scientific research station at the South Pole of the moon by 2030, says the chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program.

— What are China’s plans for future space exploration?

— Press briefing on China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission

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