Watch out, moon, China is coming for you, and they have big plans for what lies beneath your surface.
China is getting involved in the new space race this time, and their plans include being the first to mine the moon for its precious resources. A mission set for later this year would involve gathering samples from the moon and laying the groundwork for a future mining operation on the lunar surface, which holds all sorts of precious minerals and other resources that are difficult for us humans to access, to say the least.
China’s Chang’e 5 mission will be the program’s first major effort to get on the moon. It will involve sending a robotic probe that will land on the lunar surface and retrieve a sample that it will take back to Earth for study. That mission is set for this November, and would be China’s first ever sample retrieval mission in space.
The previous lunar mission, Chang’e-3, involved discovering a new type of moon rock that was caused by volcanic activity long ago. And in 2018, China plans to send Chang’e-4 to the far side of the moon, another first.
“With a weight of 8.2 tonnes, the lunar probe is comprised of four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander,” said Ye Peijian, one of China’s leading aerospace experts and a consultant to the program, was quoted in a report by state run Chinese newspaper Xinhua.
The report adds: “The lander will put moon samples in a vessel in the ascender after the moon landing. Then the ascender will take off from the moon to dock with the orbiter and the returner orbiting the moon, and transfer the samples to the returner. The orbiter and returner then head back to the earth, separating from each other when they are several thousands kilometers from earth. Finally, the returner will reenter the earth.”