The idea of life in space is very intriguing; numerous movies and TV series fictionalized this concept and had a fair amount of success. Though this notion is not limited to fiction anymore; the possibility of life in space is actually being considered.
While you’re reading this very sentence, a Chinese rover is exploring the far side of the Moon. The fact that no other country has attempted to land on the far side of the moon makes it particularly interesting. Though this mission is full of technical challenges, China is ambitious to create history. As a matter of fact, there has been an official announcement made about the country’s space program stating that China is looking to launch three more lunar missions, which will serve as a ground for their Chinese Moon base.
The reason why no one has made an effort to land on the far side of the moon is mainly due to the multitude of challenges and difficulties in the communicational channels. However, achieving this feat will provide substantial payoffs in terms of scientific research, particularly due to the fact that it will block the stray radio signals from Earth. This will provide an unparalleled view of the radio universe.
Lunar Palace – Virtual base
China is resolute on the plan to set up a lunar base, which is evident with its persistent efforts to ensure the success of this project. To reduce the potential risk of failure and ensure that their astronauts are able to endure the rough condition on the moon, they have set up a Lunar Palace, a virtual base on Earth.
The Lunar Palace is equipped with two plant modules where astronauts grow and harvest food. It also contains a 42 square meter area living cabin with a common room, four sleeping cubicles, a bathroom, a waste management area, and believe it or not, a specific room for growing animals.
The primary objective of this experiment is to see and understand more about how Bio regenerative Life Support Systems (BLSS) function over an extended period of time, particularly in outer space. When considering sustainability of life in the lunar environment, it is crucial that humans, plants, animals, and microorganisms are able to co-exist together without creating obstacles.
It is not possible to predict a timeline for the Chinese Moon Base due to the involvement of several factors which could serve as a bottleneck to the entire project. However, there are systematic steps being laid down in order to expedite the process. Firstly, China’s space program will send the Chang’e-5 lander to the moon. The readings and results collected from Chang’e-5, supplemented by three follow-up assignments will enable them to solidify plans to set up a base. Moreover, they are attempting to print 3D habitable structures using the lunar soil to increase their understanding of the lunar environment.
Another thing to consider is the Long March 9 rocket, which is under development and might be ready to fly by 2028 or 2030. It is bigger than the size of Apollo Lunar module, the rocket that carried astronauts to the moon half a century ago. With these developments, we cannot eliminate the possibility that China will have its own people on the moon by 2030s, which will put them well ahead in the competition from the likes of NASA and ESA.