The lunar venture aims to land astronauts on the moon by 2030, reflecting China's dedication to space exploration and its resolve to make significant headway in lunar exploration.
China's moon landing plan, as outlined by CMSA, involves launching two carrier rockets tasked with carrying a lunar lander and a manned spacecraft to lunar orbit. Once in orbit, the spacecraft and lunar lander will dock, allowing astronauts to enter the lander.
The lunar lander, once it lands in a predestined area on the lunar surface, will permit astronauts to conduct scientific exploration and sample collection. Upon completion of the exploration, the astronauts will board the lander, which will carry them back to lunar orbit to rendezvous with their spacecraft. Lastly, the spacecraft will transport the astronauts and their lunar samples back to Earth.
China's new carrier rocket, the Long March-10, is a product of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
Developed primarily to transport spacecraft and moon landers into the Earth-moon transfer orbit, the Long March-10 uses liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen, and kerosene as propellants. Rocket expert Rong Yi reports that the rocket has a length of about 92 meters, a launch weight of approximately 2,187 tonnes, and a lift-off thrust of about 2,678 tonnes. Its carrying capacity to the Earth-moon transfer orbit is no less than 27 tonnes.
Additionally, the rocket can be configured without boosters to deliver astronauts and cargo to a space station. In this configuration, its length, takeoff weight, thrust, and low-Earth orbit carrying capacity are 67 meters, 740 tonnes, 892 tonnes, and 14 tonnes, respectively.
The Long March-10, expected to begin preparations for its inaugural flight in 2027, serves as China's strategic pillar for achieving a manned moon landing by 2030.
China's new-generation manned spacecraft, successfully tested in May 2020, adopts a modular design and is designed to meet near-Earth and deep-space mission requirements. Comprising an escape tower, return capsule, and service module, the spacecraft has an orbital mass of 26 tonnes and a three-astronaut capacity. It will primarily serve in lunar orbit missions and Earth return journeys.
Distinct from the three-module Shenzhou spacecraft, the new spacecraft employs a two-part structure. The return capsule serves as the command center and astronaut quarters, while the service module acts as the energy and power hub. This two-part architecture provides greater flexibility and increased reusability.
Based on this new spacecraft, China is also developing near-Earth spacecraft that can accommodate four to seven crew members, indicating a promising trajectory for space tourism in China.
The lunar lander, weighing roughly 26 tonnes, comprises a landing and propelling module. Capable of independent flight, the lander can ferry astronauts from lunar orbit to the moon's surface and back.
Upon landing, astronauts will conduct lunar surface experiments within a 10 km radius using a 200 kg lunar rover capable of carrying two passengers.
Moreover, the lunar lander will transport scientific payloads for lunar geology and physics exploration, space life sciences, deep drilling on the lunar surface, and lunar resource utilization.
China plans to augment its lunar fleet with a lunar mobile laboratory designed for long-term autonomous activities on the lunar surface, capable of accommodating astronauts for short stays.Source: Xinhua News Agency
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