While a lot of space agencies are looking towards Mars as a possible future solution for the survival of the human race, China is looking a lot closer to home – somewhere you can see every night from your window. The Moon.
A Chinese state run news outlet has recently reported that China intends to begin building a Moon base within the next five years. But they’re not shipping tons of concrete to the lunar surface, they intend to make the bricks for the building from the Moon soil itself, making it the first country to build a permanent structure outside of the Earth that is anchored to another celestial body. It’s proposed that the Moon base will be manned and is also likely to involve robots too.
In a show of serious intent, 100 researchers from China’s scientific community came together at a conference to discuss everything from building the infrastructure to the use of robots.
“Eventually, building habitation beyond the earth is essential not only for all of humanity’s quest for space exploration, but also for China’s strategic needs as a space power,” Ding Lieyun, a scientist at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, told state-run news outlet China Science Daily during the conference.
Ding Lieyun demonstrated how an egg-shaped prototype could be constructed from 3D printed bricks made from lunar soil by a robot, called ‘Chinese Super Mason’, which takes the bricks and builds the structure, eliminating the need to transport labor to the Moon.
This isn’t the only interest China has in the Moon. They’re already planning a mission to the far side of the Moon which is as yet a lot less studied. The mission is to bring samples back for examination and is scheduled to begin in 2025.
As well as interest in the Moon, China is also intending to launch a total of 13,000 satellites that will become it’s own broadband-beaming mega constellation in low Earth orbit later this year. This comes on top of the development of their Long March 5B rocket platform which has enabled modules to be delivered to the Tiangong space station.
The space race is still well and truly on and is becoming a very competitive commercial area.