While NASA and other organizations around the world are setting their sights on Mars, China appears to be ramping up preparations to send astronauts to walk on the Moon’s surface.
Image Credit: geralt/Pixabay
The United States was the first and only country to successfully send human beings to the Moon, and they did so several times with a series of Apollo missions. A grand total of 12 United States astronauts have walked on the surface of the Moon since Neil Armstrong became the first to do so in 1969.
If successful, China would become the second country to put mankind on the Lunar surface, even before Russia; the United States was racing with the Soviet Union to put a man on the Moon back in the 1960’s.
The Soviet Union quickly moved a Lunar landing to low priority after the United States made it there first, and the goal never actually materialized. The Soviet Union then later dissolved and became Russia, where higher priorities like the International Space Station have since ensued and clogged up the nation’s space resources.
China has sent unmanned spacecraft to the Moon before, which proves the country has the technology to make it there. On the other hand, manned missions are significantly more complex because the visitors need to make it there safely and be able to return to Earth.
China’s intentions were initially unveiled last year, but officials are just now reporting that they’ve started the planning phase for the mission and that approval and funding for the project are likely. It may be just a few more years before the mission materializes.
Like the United States’ Apollo missions, China will create a spaceship, a propulsion vehicle, and a Lunar lander that can safely put space men on the Moon for study so that they can return home when they’re finished.
There’s no solid date estimate yet for when all of this might happen, but if one thing’s for sure, it isn’t going to be this year, or next year, or the next. Developing the technologies to take men to the Moon and then testing them for safety and reliability takes both time and patience.
It should be interesting to see how China fares in sending mankind to the Moon, especially since the ESA has expressed interest in building a research base on the Moon similarly to the way NASA wants to set up research quarters on Mars.