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Science Publishes Top Chinese Scientists on ‘China’s Present and Future Lunar Exploration Program’

July 28, 2018 (EIRNS)—On the threshold of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, Science, the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) published a feature on “China’s Present and Future Lunar Exploration Program.” The July 18 piece in the Policy Forum section of Science is by a team of four top space researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and describes the achievements and plans of the Chang’e missions of the China Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP). It gives special “emphasis on international collaboration,” as stated in the abstract. Among the four co-authors are Chunlai Li, of the National Astronomical Observatories; and Chi Wang, of the National Space Science Center; and Yong Wei and Yangting Lin, Institute of Geology and Geophysics. All institutes are part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The same day, Space.com covered the Chinese report from Science. The Space.com article is titled, “China Eyes Robotic Outpost at the Moon’s South Pole in Late 2020s,” by Mike Wall. He ends his account of the Chinese lunar report:

“China is open to collaboration with other countries on these future projects, the scientists wrote, citing the multiple international payloads aboard Chang’e-4.

“NASA likely cannot be a significant partner at the moment. Since 2011, the space agency has been prohibited from cooperating with China on space-related activities unless advance congressional approval has been obtained. But China is open to working with NASA to the extent possible, according to Li and colleagues.

“ ‘Both sides can start cooperating on aspects such as exchange of scientific data and space situational awareness information,’ they wrote. ‘China also looks forward to exploring more opportunities to cooperate with NASA to preserve the space environment for generations to come.’ ”

Space.com’s account of the Chang’e program reports that China’s Chang’e-5 sample-return mission, scheduled to launch next year, will land on the huge basaltic plain Oceanus Procellarum, about 18˚ north of the lunar Equator. But after that, the focus shifts to the South Pole.

Chang’e-6 aims to return samples from the region, and Chang’e-7 will survey the South Pole’s environment and resources. Neither mission has a fixed launch date as of yet, but both will lift off in the 2020s. So will Chang’e-8, but its destination remains unclear at the moment. These three missions represent the next phase of China’s Moon plans, and they will result in a South Pole research post before 2030, if all goes according to plan.

The researchers wrote in Science, “Through these missions, a robotic scientific research station prototype will be built on the Moon. Exploration targets will shift focus from development of space technology, to space science and space applications....

“The Lunar Scientific Research Station, with the capability of long-duration operations and intelligent operational control, will be designed to carry out technical verification and validation of resource development and utilization technology, explore prospects for applications, enhance the ability of lunar science and resource application, and lay the foundation for the construction and operation of future Lunar Research Stations, as well as exploration of the Moon by humans,”

wrote Li et al.

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