China has revealed plans concerning their first attempt on a manned lunar landing, and they’re taking the long way there.
China’s first astronaut and director general of China Manned Space Agency, Yang Liwei, announced that China was making “preliminary preparations for a manned lunar landing,” according to Xinhua.
Throughout the same conference, it was also revealed that there are four new manned missions into space over the next five years on China’s agenda.
At the same time, the country is working on building their first permanent space station, the Chinese Space Station (CSS), which they hope to have in orbit by 2019. There’s currently a Chinese experimental space lab in orbit named Tiangong-2.
Liwei said that the lunar landing would be conducted in a similar way to the Apollo missions, the manned shuttle and the lunar lander will be launched in different parts and meet up in somewhere around the moon’s orbit.
They are currently assembling a third team of astronauts, made up of 10 to 12 people and expected to be complete this year. Two of these astronauts are said to be women, but it is unclear whether or not they have yet been chosen or not.
The group will then spend three to six month inboard the Chinese Space Station to experiment and gain even more scientific experience about space.
So far, China has sent 11 taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) to space. Most recently, the Shenzhou-11 mission of last October.
Unlike the American’s, who built their space station in 1973, four years after sending the first man to the moon, the Chinese will be sending them to the CSS before the moon.
China already has a telescope operating of the moon’s surface, and plans to send a separate probe to the far side of the moon in 2018 – a region no human technology has visited before.
They will also be bringing back lunar samples through yet another mission in November this year.