China outlines plan for crewed lunar landing by 2030

The country's space administration aims to land two astronauts near the lunar south pole before the end of the decade.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of a CNSA lunar landing.
An artist's impression of a CNSA lunar landing.

3DSculptor / iStock 

China is now finalizing its crewed lunar landing plans, with the goal of sending humans to the Moon for the first time by the end of the decade, a report from SpaceNews reveals.

At the 9th China (International) Commercial Aerospace Forum in Wuhan, Hubei province, Zhang Hailian, deputy chief designer with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), presented a preliminary plan to put two astronauts on the Moon before 2030.

The presentation, on July 12, outlined the aim of sending these astronauts to carry out a number of scientific tasks, including collecting samples.

China's lunar landing plans

The mission described at the Commercial Aerospace Forum will have a crewed spacecraft and lander segments launching separately on a pair of Long March 10 rockets.

For the first crewed mission, the crew spacecraft and lander will rendezvous in orbit before attempting to land on the lunar surface. The new crew spacecraft will have a mass of 26 tons and it has already been flight tested at a high altitude.

The landing segment, meanwhile, will consist of a lander and a propulsion stage with a mass of approximately 26 tons. The propulsion stage will be used to enter lunar orbit and descend to the lunar surface and perform a soft landing before returning the astronauts to lunar orbit.

The mission will also include a lunar rover with a range of 10 kilometers (6 miles) and a mass of 200 kilograms that can sit two astronauts. China is also developing a spacesuit for lunar operations that will have to work for a minimum of 8 hours at a time.

China's Long March 10 to fly astronauts to the Moon

China is currently developing Long March 9 and 10, with 9 being envisioned as a fully reusable launch system similar to SpaceX's Starship and 10 as the rocket that will send China's first crewed mission to the lunar surface.

Long March 10 will be a three-stage rocket with three five-meter-diameter cores for its first stage. It will be capable of sending 17 tons of payload to trans-lunar injection. A test launch of Long March 10A, a smaller two-stage version, is scheduled for 2027.

In May, China officially announced that it aims to land astronauts on the Moon by 2030. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) aims to build a lunar base in the 2030s called the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).

NASA, meanwhile, is looking to perform its first crewed lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972 with its Artemis III mission currently set for 2025. It also aims to establish a permanent presence on the Moon with its Artemis program.

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