China's ambitious plans regarding its missions to the Moon are not new. In January 2019, China had already earned the distinction of being the first country to land a probe on the far side of the Moon, that is the section of the natural satellite that faces away from the Earth. Now, after two years, it appears that China is ready to widen its horizon when it comes to Moon travel and is taking active steps to enable manned landing on the Moon. A brief news report published by the Xiamen University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics on July 1 has pointed at the country aiming to develop a “human landing system for lunar missions.”
The report (via Space News) refers to the lunar landing project as a “national strategy” and has also named notable individuals heading the various allied projects. The original news report was published in the backdrop of an academic visit by the concerned parties.
Several members at China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) — a wing of the state-owned space and defense contractor China Aerospace Science and Technology — are working on a new launch vehicle for humans, that is one of the key and currently missing compliments in China's Moon mission plans.
As per the report, the meeting did not reveal what plans were in store for the development of the lander, but “current progress and future plans for human moon landings” were discussed. While the country has had a history of developing and testing launch vehicles, deeming it a “national strategy” suggests the importance that is being attached to the project.
Earlier this year, in March, China had also announced that they were working on two variants of super-heavy launch vehicles that are suitable for lunar projects. Within the next five years, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) said that it would develop a new generation crew launch vehicle as well as a heavy launch vehicle.
China's 14th Five-Year Plan for 2021-2025, that was approved in March, did not feature a specific manned lunar landing project.
However, more details could be seen in a fifth space white paper focusing on the objective of the next five years, expected to be released later this year.
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