Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).


China is blueprinting a plan for the country’s human exploration of the Moon.

Chen Shanguang, deputy chief designer of China’s manned space program, outlined the plan at the 1st China Space Science Assembly held October 25-28 in Xiamen, east China’s Fujian Province.

Reported by China’s Xinhua news agency, Chen said the objective is to explore the Moon, establish a lunar base to carry out scientific research, and accumulate technology and experience for going deeper into space.

“The long-term goal is to send people to Mars,” Chen said. Solving the scientific problems involving human survival on the Moon could lay a foundation for human beings to go further into deep space, he added.

Chang’e 5 mission, now slated for 2020 – a multi-module spacecraft that would land, collect, and return to Earth lunar samples.
Credit: China Space Website





Lunar sample return

Meanwhile, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, has indicated a slip in plans to launch the Chang’e-5 probe, now targeted for 2020. That spacecraft is designed to bring lunar specimens back to Earth.

However, the Long March-5 carrier rocket must achieve a third launch success prior to hurling Chang’e-5 to the Moon.

Long March-5 booster’s first liftoff occurred in early November 2016. Mishap on launcher’s second flight in July 2017. Progress for a return-to-flight Long March-5 mission appears to be underway for possible flight late this year.
Credit: CASC


Booster malfunction

The second Long March-5 booster rocketed from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southern province of Hainan on July 2, 2017. It encountered a malfunction less than six minutes after its liftoff.

According a Xinhua news report, China’s space engineers have spent over two years looking for the cause of the failure. The third Long March-5 rocket has been transported to the Wenchang Space Launch Center for a new flight.

The success of that booster’s flight will be the key for China’s future space missions, including the Chang’e-5 probe.

Following a circumlunar voyage in 2014, a return capsule parachuted to Earth. This test was a prelude to China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission being readied for its return sample mission now scheduled for 2020.
Courtesy: China Space

Fourth phase

Wu said the Chang’e-5 probe includes a lander, an orbiter, an ascender and a returner. The key of the mission will be collected 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of lunar samples, takeoff from the Moon, rendezvous and docking on lunar orbit and high-speed reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

According to Xinhua, China is also drawing up the fourth phase of its lunar exploration program (beyond orbiting, landing, and returning). That phase calls for scientific research in the south polar region of the Moon by mainly using highly intelligent robots, and realize long-term exploration in the complicated lunar environment, Wu said.

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