China’s Lunar Exploration Programme

China’s Lunar Exploration Programme mind map
Recent News:
ILRS project:
Aims to construct a permanent lunar base in the 2030s
Series of stepping stone missions planned before end of this decade
China establishing International Lunar Research Station Cooperation Organization (ILRSCO)
To coordinate and manage the project
Signing agreements and memorandums of understanding with space agencies
Headquarters located in Deep Space Science City, Hefei, Anhui province
Centers focusing on:
Design simulation
Operation control
Data processing
Sample storage and research
International training
Aim to define ILRS task sharing
Sign and approve intergovernmental agreements before end of 2024
Chang’e missions:
Next step is launch of Queqiao-2 lunar relay satellite early next year
Followed by Chang’e-6 lunar far side sample return mission in May 2024
Chang’e-7 targeting Shackleton crater in 2026
Hopping spacecraft for water-ice search in permanently shadowed craters
Chang’e-8 to land nearby Chang’e-7
Robot designed to test 3D printing bricks from lunar regolith
Crewed lunar landing planned before 2030
Main goal to land Chinese astronauts on the moon for the first time
Development includes:
New generation manned carrier rocket (Long March 10 launch vehicle)
New generation crew spacecraft
Lunar lander
Moon suit
ILRS project and Chang’e missions planned throughout the 2020s and 2030s
Crewed lunar landing targeted before 2030
Establish a permanent lunar base
Facilitate human and robotic exploration of the moon
Lay groundwork for future missions, including crewed Mars mission
ILRS and Chang’e missions to include:
Nuclear energy
Astronomical observation infrastructure
Initially robotic research station, later hosting astronauts
Technology validation for crewed Mars mission
Moon, specifically targeting:
Shackleton crater for Chang’e-7
South Pole–Aitken basin for Chang’e-6
China National Space Administration (CNSA)
Deep Space Exploration Laboratory (DSEL)
International Lunar Research Station Cooperation Organization (ILRSCO)
Countries and organizations worldwide invited to join
Series of missions including orbiter, lander, rover, and hopping spacecraft
Development of new technologies and infrastructure
International cooperation and agreements
Advances in lunar exploration
Establishment of permanent lunar base
Development of international cooperation in space exploration
Technical and logistical challenges
International political and regulatory hurdles
Cost and resource allocation
Way Forward:
Completion of planned missions
Strengthening international partnerships
Continued technological development and research

China’s Lunar Exploration Programme is a broad and ambitious initiative aimed at exploring the Moon through a series of robotic missions and eventually establishing a permanent lunar base in the 2030s. This programme encompasses the launch of various Chang’e missions, each with specific goals ranging from lunar sample returns to testing technologies for in-situ resource utilization and constructing infrastructure for a robotic, and later, crewed lunar research station. The programme also includes plans for China’s first crewed lunar landing before 2030, leveraging breakthroughs in space technology, including new spacecraft, launch vehicles, and moon suits. Central to these efforts is the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), proposed to be a collaborative international project aimed at lunar exploration and beyond. The initiative underlines China’s commitment to becoming a leading power in space exploration, fostering international cooperation, and setting the stage for future interplanetary missions.

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