mum, dad and the kids working the lunar farm?
In the newly published book titled "Academicians Envisioning the 21st Century", Ouyang Ziyuan wrote on his perspective of a systematic approach to establish an initial Moon station, then evolve to a full-scale lunar city.
The book, intended to be a publication to popularize science, is a collection of essays written by 60 scientists from the two academies of Sciences and Engineering. The essays describe their scientific perspectives, visions and pursuit in the 21st century in fields such as life sciences and medicine, environment and resources, and new technologies and new materials.
Ouyang, a scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, foresees that astronauts will start to turn the Moon into a "natural space station" in 2005. The station will have pressurized modules, electricity generating facilities, daily necessities and roving vehicles.
By 2010 the completed and fully equipped station will allow human explorers to stay for weeks, and to conduct science experiments and astronomical observations.
Five years later in 2015, a small-scale but permanent Moon base will appear. Humans will live in the base, begin to build experimental factories and farms, and gradually develop a Moon city and realize the dream of a self-sufficient "Earth village" by 2020.
Ouyang points out that inhabitants of the Moon city may build a network of solar power generating plants. Energy generated here may be transmitted back to Earth as a long-term, stable energy source for Earthlings.
At the same time lunar settlers can extract metals, oxygen and other gases from the lunar regolith -- the top layers of impact-generated fragments -- and rocks, and take advantage of the low lunar gravity, a high degree of vacuum and an ultraclean environment to research and produce new materials that are extremely difficult to manufacture on Earth.
Although Ouyang writes in general terms of establishing a lunar colony, the writing reflects China's desire to be a participant of the moonbase project when it arises; perhaps even a glimpse that this would be the course China takes in setting up its moonbase.
On Monday (Oct. 16) Xinhua reported the news of the Chinese quest in robotic lunar landing missions ahead of manned lunar flights.
Two weeks ago Luan Enjie, Director of the Chinese space agency China National Space Administration (CNSA), reiterated China's goals of lunar and martian exploration in the new century at the opening ceremony of the World Space Week celebration.
A month ago the Chief Designer of Chinese rockets Long Lehao told reporters in Hong Kong that China would research and develop new and more powerful rockets and related advanced technologies for use in deep space exploration, including excursions to the Moon and Mars.
Through the series of recent announcements, China appears to send the message that it intends to be a major space power in the 21st century.