A Long March 5 rocket takes off. (Image credit: CASC).
China has ambitious plans to end US dominance in space exploration and plans to land taikonauts, or Chinese astronauts, on the lunar surface by 2030. The mission is likely to go to the region around the moon’s south pole.
China is developing the Long March 10 rocket for future crewed missions to the lunar surface. The rocket is capable of carrying the crew module along with the lunar lander into the Earth-Moon transfer orbit. Liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen and kerosene will be used as propellants in the vehicle. It is 92 meters long and can deliver at least 27 tons to the Earth-Moon Transfer Orbit.
There is also a configuration of a vehicle without a booster that could carry Taikonauts to the Tiangong space station. China is the only country currently operating its own space station, and Taykonauts recently successfully conducted a spacewalk to mount cameras on the outside of various modules. For the low-Earth orbit regime, the Long March 10 can lift 14 tons into space. The first flight of the Long March 10 is expected to take place in 2027.
There are also more details on new manned craft or crew capsules for lunar missions. It has a modular design, consisting of a service capsule, a return capsule and an escape tower, making it almost like a miniature space station all on its own. The command module and living quarters form one half, while the energy and power modules belong to the other half. A flexible approach allows components to be reused. The crew capsule is designed for operations in orbit around the Moon and Earth.
The Crew Module has a capacity of between four and seven humans, making it ideal for space tourism. China has ambitious plans for lunar exploration, intending to establish a lunar research station with three rovers by the end of the decade. It also plans to build a moon base in collaboration with Russia by the end of this decade. With its lunar exploration program, China plans to end US dominance in space, while cooperating with international space agencies and becoming a major player in the global space economy.