China’s crewed lunar program is starting to take shape, with plans to land astronauts on the Moon by 2030. A new simulation shows what that lunar landing could look like, revealing the next-generation spacecraft and lunar lander that would make the future journey to Earth’s satellite.
During a televised presentation, chairman of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Wu Yansheng detailed the ongoing development of China’s aerospace program.
Toward the end of the hour-long video that aired on the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) was a short glimpse of the new-generation crew spacecraft designed to transport astronauts to the Moon. The animated video then showed an astronaut descending from a lunar lander toward the surface of the Moon before panning out to reveal another astronaut standing next to a People’s Republic of China flag planted on the lunar surface. There’s also what appears to be a lunar rover at the bottom right corner of the screen.
The simulated lunar landing begins around 50 minutes into the video below.
China has been gearing up for its upcoming lunar missions, hoping to not only land astronauts on the Moon but establish a sustained presence on the lunar surface. The program could rival NASA’s Artemis program, which recently kicked off with the inaugural launch of the Space Launch System rocket and the uncrewed Orion journey to the Moon and back.
During a recent interview with Politico, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed concern over China seeking to monopolize resources on the Moon. “We better watch out that they don’t get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, ‘Keep out, we’re here, this is our territory,’” Nelson said.
In 2020, China’s Chang’e 5 mission made history by bringing lunar samples to Earth for the first time in more than 40 years, and its successor Chang’e 6 is scheduled to launch in 2025 to collect a second batch of lunar samples from the Moon’s far side.
China is targeting 2030 for the launch of its crewed mission to the Moon, hoping to land its astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time. China’s space program has made a lot of headway recently, but it still needs to develop a rocket to launch the crewed spacecraft to the Moon, in addition to building a lunar lander.
Both lunar programs are poised to shape the new space race to the Moon.