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China has been on the way to play a role in the international lunar race for some time, channeling surprising budget sums to the industry to accompany the US which in turn recently announced a pretentious goal of sending a manned mission back to the Moon, four decades after the Apollo missions.
China has set an ambitious goal of building a scientific research center on the Moon in "about 10 years" in the area of its South Pole, Xinhua state news agency quoted China's National Space Administration (CSNA) chief Zhang Kejian .
The goal is a departure from what NASA achieved as a result of its six successful Apollo missions that landed near the moon's equator but not in the pole areas between 1969 and 1972.
The first parts of the planned station are expected to arrive in orbit aboard the country's new Long March 5B rocket in the first half of 2020 while the ISS is nearing the end of its functional scientific life and there is no evidence that the US will begin to cooperate. with China in terms of joint space efforts.
Details of China's long-term lunar objectives have yet to be released, but CSNA has already taken some decisive steps towards space exploration: the successful launch of an unmanned Chang & e 39 in the other side of the world . Kejian also announced that the Chang-e-5, an unmanned lunar module originally planned to hit the lunar surface in 2017, will attempt to land on the moon and take samples for future research in 2019, Xinhua reported.
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In a separate move, China recently announced the successful placement of astronauts at two temporary space stations, Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2, while a more permanent station is expected to start operating in the next few years.
China has been earmarking considerable sums for space exploration in recent times, ranking second on the list of top spenders just behind the US, according to OECD data. US plans to land humans on the moon, however, have caused some setbacks due to the fact that NASA is heavily reliant on a ride aboard a Russian rocket or alternatively in a commercial rocket business such as SpaceX – something which has not yet been agreed.
However, the Trump government made headlines last month announcing a target of 2024 to return to the lunar surface, decades after the Apollo missions and four years ahead of the original schedule of the so-called Lunar Gateway project, which stipulates the creation of a permanent project. manned lunar base by 2020.