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China Reveals Plan to Land Astronauts on the Moon by 2030

The lunar neighborhood is growing.

By Cassidy Ward

In April of 1970, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise strapped themselves to a rocket and set out for the surface of the Moon. They almost made it. Instead, they spent six harrowing days inside a broken spacecraft, hoping to stay alive long enough to make it home.

Apollo 13, the 1995 film directed by Ron Howard (streaming now on Peacock!), tells the story of the ill-fated 13th Apollo mission and the astronauts, Lovell (Tom Hanks), Swigert (Kevin Bacon), and Haise (Bill Paxton), who pulled off the most incredible turnaround in the history of space travel.

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More than half a century later, NASA is planning to return to the Moon, and when they do, they won’t be alone. China has announced plans to land a crewed mission on the Moon before the end of the decade, according to Chinese state-run Global Times.

Chinese Space Agency Outlines Plan to Land Humans on the Moon

Moon and Earth

The news was delivered by Zhang Hailian, deputy chief engineer at the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), during the opening keynote of the Ninth China (International) Commercial Aerospace Forum (9th CCAF) in Wuhan, China on July 12.

Getting there involves a unique plan utilizing multiple rockets. One rocket will carry an uncrewed lunar lander, while another rocket will carry the crew. The crew and the lander will rendezvous in lunar orbit before making their final descent to the surface. It’s a design which sidesteps the need for a more powerful vehicle, capable of launching the lander and crew together.

Once the crew is ready to come home, the lander will lift off from the Moon’s surface and meet up with the orbiter for the return trip to Earth. If they can get there by their proposed 2030 deadline, and if no one else beats them to the punch, the mission would make China only the second nation to land human explorers on another world.

The first mission will carry out early recon for a future research station on the Moon, collect samples, and do exploration. But before they can do any of that, the scientists at CMSA are busy developing all of the technology they’ll need for a successful mission.

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Based on comments by developers on the ground, those preparations include development of the Long March-10 carrier rocket, a new crew-ready spacecraft, the lunar lander, and a rover capable of carrying at least two crew members, reports the Global Times.

We’re going to be back on the Moon before we know it, and when we get there, it’s going to be a little more crowded. Fortunately, there’s plenty of Moon to go around.

Revisit the original space race with Apollo 13 and The Last Man on the Moon, streaming now on Peacock!