Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China has blueprinted an implementation plan for a human lunar mission.

In a press event Monday, Ji Qiming, assistant director with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) made the statement in response to a question on China’s future lunar exploration plans.

“China’s manned space exploration will not only stay in low-Earth orbit, but will surely go more steadily and farther,” Ji said, as reported by the China Central Television (CCTV).

Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Ideal base and outpost

“The Moon is the ideal base and outpost for humans to expand and exploit outer space, and lunar exploration has been the hot spot and focus of the development of manned spaceflight in the world,” Ji said. “In accordance with the development strategy approved by the Chinese government, we have completed key technological breakthroughs and in-depth demonstration of the manned lunar exploration program.”

Chinese characteristics

Ji added that breakthroughs have been made in crewed spacecraft, new-generation crew-carrying rockets, a lunar lander and a lunar suit.

This work, Ji said, has led to formulating an implementation plan for a piloted lunar mission “with Chinese characteristics.”

Artist’s view of International Lunar Research Station to be completed by 2035. Credit: CNSA/Roscosmos

“All these works have laid a solid foundation for the manned lunar exploration program,” Ji stated, “and we have the conditions for its full implementation. I believe that the dream of the Chinese people to explore the Moon will come true in the near future.”

Research station

In an earlier interview with CCTV, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, Wu Weiren, also outlined the country’s humans to the Moon aspirations.

China is upgrading the carrier rockets and launch sites for future piloted space sojourns to the Moon and Mars, Wu said.

Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, details future plans with reporter.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“In the next five years, I hope we can retrieve the samples from the far side of the Moon, Mars and asteroids and can complete the construction of Chinese lunar scientific research station. In the next 10 years, I hope the international lunar scientific research station can be completed and the asteroid defense and asteroid impact experiments can be conducted successfully. In the next 15 years, I think we should start preparations for sending human beings to the Mars and we should leave Chinese people’s footprints on the Moon. These are the goals to be basically reached,” Wu said.

Upgraded facilities

Wu noted that the thrust of current launch vehicles need to be upgraded to better facilitate future deep space exploration initiatives.

Credit: CNSA/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“We now have the Long March-5 rocket with the maximum thrust of around 1,060 tons. That is an incredible thrust, which can send the payload of 8.5 tons to the moon and 24 tons to the low Earth orbit. The next generation of rocket will have four times the thrust of Long March-5. What does four times mean? It means that we can send the payload of over 100 tons to the low Earth orbit and 30 to 40 tons to the moon in the future. It can prepare us for future manned missions to Mars, to the Moon, and for the mass transportation to near-Earth space,” the chief engineer said.

Wu mentioned that a new heavy-lift rocket with a 10-meter diameter is under development, which will take on future crewed missions to the Moon and further expeditions to Mars and is expected to carry out the one-time configuration flight verification mission around 2035.

“What is a one-time configuration? That is, in the past rockets had several boosters, but in the future, we won’t need the big-diameter boosters, only the first-stage and second-stage engines of about 10 meters in diameter. The Long March-5’s diameter is five meters. It will increase its diameter to 10 meters in the future and quadruple its thrust. Hainan’s Wenchang will rebuild its launch site and launch base, and redesign the launch stations,” said Wu.

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