China vows to build a space station on the MOON by 2030

China vows to build a space station on the MOON by 2030 – up to four years before NASA

  • Beijing wants to get Chinese boots on lunar surface within the next seven years
  • It also wants to create a base on the moon by 2030 — potentially beating the US 

China may be a late bloomer in space exploration, but it has unveiled a grand vision that could see it become the first nation to build a lunar base on the moon.

Not only does Beijing want to get Chinese boots on the surface within the next seven years, it may also beat the US to having a permanent outpost there. 

NASA has previously revealed a goal of establishing its own Artemis Base Camp by the 2030s, a timeline which would put the two countries on a collision course and set up the mouth-watering prospect of an epic 21st century space race. 

Wu Weiren, the physicist who leads China’s moon mission, told state media that Beijing wants to create a lunar science and research station before the end of the decade.

‘By 2030, the footprints of the Chinese people will be left on the moon,’ he said. ‘There’s no question about it.’ 

Boots on the moon: China may be a late bloomer in space exploration but it has unveiled a vision that could see it become the first nation to build a lunar base on the moon. More details emerged two years after Beijing and Moscow announced plans for a joint venture (pictured)

Ambitious: In 2021, the two countries said they would collaborate in the planning, design, development and operation of the research station. But not only does Beijing want to get Chinese boots on the surface within the next seven years, it may also beat the US to having a permanent outpost there

It comes two years after China announced plans with Russia to set up a joint base on the moon by 2035.


When does NASA intend to start building a lunar outpost?

From Artemis VII onwards. On the basis that Artemis III is scheduled to launch in 2025 but expected to slip, if there were to be one mission a year that would see VII fly in 2029 at the earliest.

When is China planning to begin its version with Russia?

With the help of Chang’e 8, which is currently scheduled to launch in 2028.

This would potentially give the two nations a 12-month head start on their Western rivals, but would it be enough time to make it the first habitable base ahead of the US?

Only time will tell in what could be the great 21st century space race. 

This latest announcement would suggest the two have accelerated their goal in an attempt to beat a US-led Western contingent that includes the space agencies of Canada, Europe and Japan.

Leaked documents last year suggested NASA was targeting 2034 for the beginning of its moon base-building venture.

However, the US space agency has also voiced hopes of having a permanent lunar outpost by the end of this decade, while just last week officials hinted that work could begin as early as the Artemis VII mission.

This could launch between 2029 and 2030 depending on the success of earlier milestones in the programme. 

China is a relative newcomer when it comes to space endeavours but has had a number of impressive successes over the past decade.

It launched the uncrewed Chang’e 1 in 2007 to loop around the moon and in 2013 made a successful unmanned landing there. 

Six years later it became the first country to land on the far side of the moon and at the end of 2020 its Chang’e-5 probe successfully brought back rock and ‘soil’ it picked up from the surface. 

This was seen as another demonstration of the country’s increasing capability in space.

Russia, on the other hand, appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

Once a superpower alongside the US, it has gone from space pioneer to a somewhat bit-part player having lost its monopoly on taking astronauts to the International Space station following the emergence of Elon Musk’s SpaceX. 

That being said, Moscow still has significant expertise and is clearly seen by China as the ideal partner in its moon base endeavours.

In 2021, Russian space agency Roscosmos revealed that it had signed an agreement with China’s National Space Administration to develop research facilities on the surface of the moon. 

The two countries said they would collaborate in the planning, design, development and operation of the research station.

Although the original goal was to build the lunar outpost by 2035, it appears Beijing and Moscow now have one eye on going toe-to-toe with NASA in the race to become the dominant global force in space.

Rival: NASA has previously revealed a goal of establishing its own Artemis Base Camp by the end of this decade (pictured in an artist’s impression)

Other ambitions: The US space agency is also working on a project to build the first lunar space station in orbit around the moon (shown in an artist’s impression) 

According to its official timetable, Beijing would launch Chang’e 7 in 2026 for a ‘comprehensive survey task’ to look for water at the moon’s south pole.


NASA is also working on a project to build the first lunar space station in orbit around the moon. 

The Lunar Gateway, which has involvement from the UK Space Agency, is part of a long-term project to send humans to Mars.

It is designed to act as a solar powered communication hub, science laboratory and home to astronauts and scientists studying the moon. 

It will also act as a holding area for rovers, robots and crewed spacecraft heading to the lunar surface. 

The crew-tended spaceport will orbit the moon and serve as a ‘gateway to deep space and the lunar surface,’ NASA has said.

The first module, HALO, covering logistics and habitat, is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2024, with others to follow later.

Two years later, Chang’e 8 would then help to build an international lunar station that would be available for use by other nations, Wu told state broadcaster China Central Television.

‘Its primary task would be to survey resources on the moon and experiment with the reutilisation of the resources,’ he added. 

‘For example, there would be questions such as whether buildings could be constructed there, whether bricks could be used and how communications would be conducted.’

In comparison, NASA has just named four astronauts as part of its first moon crew in 50 years. 

The goal is for Artemis II to fly around the moon next year, with a lunar landing some time in 2025 which would see the first woman and first person of colour step foot on the surface as part of the Artemis III mission.

However, there is widespread belief that this timeline will slip slightly.

The US space agency has indicated that the first missions to begin building a base on the moon will be Artemis VII, VIII and IX, which would likely be around the same time Chang’e 8 is scheduled to do the same. 

Both America and China-Russia are targeting exploration of the lunar south pole for their lunar outposts because it is known to contain large amounts of water ice that could be harvested for future colonies. 

NASA’s plans for a single Artemis Base Camp at the lunar south pole were first revealed back in 2020.

However, just last week officials suggested that they may work with international partners such as the European Space Agency to expand this to a series of moon bases. 

One concept: The US company AI SpaceFactory last year unveiled its design for a 3D-printed bunker that could protect astronauts from radiation, meteorites and moonquakes on the moon

Pitch: LINA (Lunar Infrastructure Asset), as the base has been called, would be constructed by autonomous robots. Its design stems from a collaboration between AI SpaceFactory and NASA to develop technologies for lunar surface construction within the timeframe of Artemis

One of the benefits would be that it would add redundancy to missions that could face catastrophic emergencies on the moon.  

Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems development, told a press briefing that it would also allow the Artemis programme to maximise its scientific potential.

‘So we can maybe have two or three sites to go to that help our science diversity because the reason we’re doing Artemis in the first place is for science,’ Free said.

‘We’re probably looking at the later missions, like [Artemis] 7, 8, and 9, where we’re starting to look at adding permanent habitation on the surface.’ 

The US first landed a man on the moon in 1969 and sent 11 more to the lunar surface until 1972, but has not been there since.

Last year its new Artemis programme got under way as a 21st century successor to the hugely successful Apollo. 

The uncrewed Artemis I mission saw NASA’s Orion spacecraft launched into orbit on a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and sent on a 25-day trip around the moon and back again.


The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft is launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 17, 2021 in Jiuquan, Gansu Province of China, carried on the Long March-2F rocket, to Chinese Tiangong space station

July 19, 1964: China took its first official step into space, launching and recovering an experimental biological rocket carrying white mice.

April 24, 1970: The first Chinese satellite, Dong Fang Hong 1, was launched from the Jiuquan launch centre in the northwestern province of Gansu. That made China the fifth country to send satellites into orbit, following the Soviet Union, the United States, France and Japan.

Nov. 26, 1975: China launched its first recoverable satellite.

Nov. 20, 1999: China launched its first unmanned spacecraft, the Shenzhou-1.

Oct. 15, 2003: China became the third country after the United States and Russia to send a man into space with its own rocket. Astronaut Yang Liwei spent about 21 hours in space aboard the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft.

Oct. 12, 2005: China sent two men on a five-day flight on its Shenzhou-6 spacecraft.

Nov. 5, 2007: China’s first lunar orbiter, Chang’e-1, entered the moon’s orbit 12 days after takeoff.

Sept. 25, 2008: China’s third manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-7, was launched into space, where an astronaut clambered out of the spacecraft for the nation’s first space walk.

Oct. 1, 2010: China’s second lunar exploration probe blasted off from a remote corner of the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Sept. 29, 2011: The Tiangong-1, or ‘Heavenly Palace 1’, China’s first space lab, was launched to carry out docking and orbiting experiments.

Nov. 3, 2011: China carried out its first docking exercise between two unmanned spacecraft, the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 module, a key test to securing a long-term manned presence in space.

Dec. 14, 2013: China landed an unmanned spacecraft on the moon in the first ‘soft-landing’ since 1976, joining the United States and the former Soviet Union in accomplishing the feat.

Sept. 15, 2016:China launched its second experimental space laboratory, the Tiangong-2, part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

Jan. 3, 2019: The Chang’e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, touched down on the far side of the moon. Previous spacecraft have flown over the far side but not landed on it.

June 23, 2020: China put into orbit its final Beidou satellite, completing a navigation network years in the making and setting the stage to challenge the U.S.-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).

July 23, 2020: China launched an unmanned probe to Mars in its first independent mission to another planet.

Nov. 24, 2020: China launched an uncrewed mission, the Chang’e-5, with the aim of collecting lunar material to help scientists learn more about the moon’s origins.

Dec. 1, 2020: China landed the Chang’e-5 probe on the moon’s surface.

April 29, 2021: China launched Tianhe, the first and largest of three modules of its upcoming space station.

May 15, 2021: China became the second country after the United States to land a robotic rover on the surface of Mars.

June 17, 2021: China launched the crewed Shenzhou-12 spacecraft to dock with Tianhe.

October 15, 2021: China launched the crewed Shenzhou-13 spacecraft to dock with the country’s new Tiangong space station.

June 5, 2022: China launched the crewed Shenzhou-14 spacecraft to dock with Tiangong.

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