(Yicai Global) April 25 -- China is in talks with other countries and space agencies, especially the European Space Agency, about building an international 'Moon Village,' said Tian Yulong, secretary general of the China National Space Administration.
Tian was speaking at an aerospace event held in Xian yesterday, according to China News Service, just weeks after ESA Director Jan Woerner again plugged the concept, in development for a number of years, at an event in the US at which Tian also spoke about China's plans for exploring the Earth's natural satellite.
China has accelerated its deep space exploration and is ramping up efforts in space science. China's lunar program is divided into three steps: circling, landing and retrieval. As three Chang'e lunar probes have already completed the first two, China will send up Chang'e-5 to carry out a sample-return mission by the end of the year.
By 2018, humans will have landed on the dark side of the moon for the first time to explore its physical and mineral environments. Chang'e-6 will be at the forefront of the investigation. A telecoms link also needs to be built due to the communications blind spot between the earth and the moon's dark side. China has plans to also explore the moon's north and south poles and set up science stations.
China will kick off its Mars exploration by 2020, Tian said. Circling and landing on the red planet will be done at the same time. A preliminary plan for a sample-return mission to Mars by 2030 to better understand the planet has been drawn up.
China enjoys a lead in deep space exploration, which represents a new direction for the country's aerospace program, Tian said. China is working with other countries to better understand the universe, explore its mysteries and bring more scientific knowledge to young people to help them understand the world they live in.