China Sets Out Ambitious Space Goals

Country plans to have astronauts on moon by 2030
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2023 3:45 PM CDT
China Says It Plans to Have Astronauts on Moon by 2030
Staff members pose for a photo in front of a billboard depicting Chinese astronauts at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Monday, May 29, 2023.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China’s burgeoning space program plans to place astronauts on the moon before 2030 and expand the country's orbiting space station, officials said Monday. The announcement comes against the background of a rivalry with the US for reaching new milestones in outer space, reflecting their competition for influence on global events. That has conjured up memories of the space race between the US and the former Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s, although American spending, supply chains and capabilities are believed to give it a significant edge over China, at least for the present, the AP reports.

The deputy director of China’s space agency confirmed the twin objectives at a news conference but gave no specific dates. The agency also introduced three astronauts who will head to the country’s space station in a launch scheduled for Tuesday morning. They’ll replace a crew that’s been on the orbiting station for six months. China is first preparing for a "short stay on the lunar surface and human-robotic joint exploration," Deputy Director of the Chinese Manned Space Agency Lin Xiqiang told reporters at the rare briefing by the military-run program. "We have a complete near-Earth human space station and human round-trip transportation system," he said.

The Tiangong space station was said to have been finished in November when the third section was added. A fourth module will be launched "at an appropriate time to advance support for scientific experiments and provide the crew with improved working and living conditions," Lin said. Al Jazeera reports that the new space station crew will include the first civilian Chinese astronaut to go to space. Payload expert Gui Haichao is a professor at Beijing's top aerospace research institute. All previous crew members have been in the People's Liberation Army. (More China space program stories.)

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