WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Space exploration and building colonies on Mars and the Moon are in vogue as countries and billionaires vie to out do one another.
Just like the European Space Agency, Jeff Bezos, who wants to also move heavy industry off Earth, and NASA, China has now announced plans to send a manned mission to the Moon and build a research station on the Moon’s surface within the next decade. The announcement was made by China National Space Administration head Zhang Kejian during speech marking “Space Day,” and comes shortly after the country’s announcement that it also wants to be first to build a space based solar power plant by 2025. And if they do accomplish this great feat then, thanks to Vodafone and Nokia, Kejian can rest assured that his astronauts will be able to get a full 4G cell service when they arrive.
Kejian also added that Beijing “plans to launch a Mars probe by 2020” and confirmed that a fourth lunar probe, the Chang’e-5, will be launched by the end of the year.
Originally scheduled to collect moon samples in the second half of 2017, the Chang’e-5 was delayed after its planned carrier, the powerful Long March 5 Y2 rocket, failed during a separate launch in July 2017.
During the event Kejian also announced the country’s Long March-5B rocket will make its maiden flight in the first half of 2020, carrying the core parts of the country’s first planned space station – the Tiangong, or “Heavenly Palace,” which will go into orbit in 2022, and that’s set to replace the International Space Station (ISS) – a collaboration between the US, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan – which is due to be retired in 2024.
Beijing last week also said it would launch an asteroid exploration mission, like the one recently conducted by Japan, and invited collaborators to place their experiments on the probe.
With every announcement China ratchets up its focus and spending on space exploration, to the point where, according to the OECD, the country now spends an estimated $8.4Billion on programs – more than Russia and Japan do and second only to the US.