China has announced in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that the unmanned lunar station, jointly built with Russia, will be completed around 2027.
They have devised a new plan that is 8 years earlier than the old one. it will beat the US in its race to the moon and beyond.
China’s Chang’e 8 moon landing mission was supposed to be based on academia like 3D-printing lunar dust, but the Deputy Director of China National Space Administration (CNSA) Wu Yanhua announced that the new target of the administration is putting an unmanned research station on the lunar surface, which was previously scheduled for 2035.
Wu stated that the mission was to “build a solid foundation for the peaceful use of lunar resources”.
China’s progress in space exploration had been a secret as the country showed no interest in developing its facilities in that direction.
The sudden change in China’s plans might be related to NASA’s expected moon landing soon, which is delayed but still earlier than China’s. The Artemis program is massively complex. It requires building a facility like the International Space Station in the moon’s orbit with an estimated cost of 100 billion dollars by 2025. NASA recently revealed that the first landing could be delayed by several years due to technical and other challenges.
Deputy Chief Designer of China’s manned space program Zhang Chongfeng previously criticized the United States for pushing an “Enclosure Movement” on the moon, shortly after the Chang’e 5-T1 mission brought lunar samples back to Earth in 2014.
The U.S. government and NASA have proposed the Artemis Accords to set rules for future lunar activities. The accords allow governments or private companies to protect their facilities or “heritage sites” by setting up safety zones that forbid the entry of others and are already signed by more than a dozen U.S. allies.
The accords are opposed by China and Russia. They state that these accords challenge the existing international protocols including the United Nations Moon Treaty. Zhang defends that UN’s Moon Treaty states that the moon belongs to the entire human race.