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China continues to scope out a future international lunar research station, one that will carry out lunar-based Earth observations and perform lunar resource utilization.

Zou Yongliao, head of the lunar and deep space exploration division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, revealed the goals at a recent national space conference, as reported by China Science Daily.

Image credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China plans to establish a basic model for a lunar research station based on two planned robotic exploration missions by 2028. Subsequently that research will expand into an international one, with objectives mainly involve studying the Moon’s evolution, exploring star formation and activities, and observing the sun and Earth from the Moon.

Historical necessity

Zou also mentioned the performance of scientific experiments, like growing plants on the lunar surface, and the utilization of lunar resources, such as Moon minerals and solar energy, the China Science Daily report adds. “The scientist noted that the Moon is still the “main field” of deep space exploration and the construction of an international lunar research station was a historical necessity.”

China is pushing forward on its crewed Moon exploration planning, reportedly making breakthroughs in key technologies that are required and intends to promote this year a research and development agenda toward a crewed Moon landing mission.

Image credit: GLOBALink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Station operations: new chapter

Meanwhile, closer to home and in Earth orbit, China is pushing forward on the country’s space station as it enters a new chapter of application and development.

China’s Global Times reports that the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) China has scheduled the next set of launches this year to the orbiting complex: the Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft and the Shenzhou-16 and -17 crewed space missions.

Image credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Upcoming missions

China will launch the Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft in May, and the spacecraft has already been transported to Wenchang Space Launch Site in South China’s Hainan Province.

The current Shenzhou-15 crew of three is expected to return to Earth in June.

The crew members for Shenzhou-16, Shenzhou-17 have been selected and they are now training for the missions, the CMSA stated.

The CMSA highlighted that the first batch of international experiment projects that were jointly selected by the agency and the United Nation Office for Outer Space Affairs, will be uploaded to the China orbiting outpost this year. 

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