China is preparing to build a scientific research base on the moon within the decade. The ambitious space nation is reportedly planning to choose a site in the region of the moon's south pole according to state news agency Xinhua.
The China National Space Administration (CSNA) has already successfully landed an uncrewed vehicle on the moon's dark side which is currently completing research missions.
China could replace ISS
Full details of the planned base haven’t been released but China has certainly been stepping up its space program in recent years. This year they have placed astronauts aboard two temporary space stations, Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. CSNA also has plans to launch a more permanent station into orbit soon.
In 2020 the first parts of that permanent station will head to space on China’s new Long March-5B rock. Despite not being associated with the current International Space Station (ISS) is reaching the end of its life, and none of the participating nations have made plans to replace the station.
Currently, the USA and China do not cooperate on space endeavors, but that may change if the aging ISS is not replaced. China puts itself back on the space map when it landed its uncrewed Chang’e-4 rover on the moon in January.
Bullseye landing sets China apart
The Chang'e-4 probe made a 'bullseye' landing in the Moon's Aitken Basin Von Kármán crater. Instruments on the lander and rover will study the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure of the area as well as perform low-frequency radio astronomical observation.
“China is on the road to become a strong space nation. And this marks one of the milestone events of building a strong space nation," chief designer for the lunar mission, Wu Weiren, told CCTV at the time of the launch. China’s plans to create a base on the moon will no doubt send ripples through NASA and other space agencies.
China invests big
According to AFP China spends more than any other nation, excluding the US on space research. NASA says it does have plans to send people back to the moon but is outsourcing its crewed mission to private companies like SpaceX and Boeing.
China’s Chang’e lander not only made history with the location it landed at, but it was also the first mission to successfully grow seeds brought from Earth in space. Aboard the lander was a sealed container created by Chongqing university that contained the ingredients for a mini-biosphere. Cotton seeds of the experiment successfully sprouted though they died shortly after when temperatures on the moon plunged.