Published: Fri, January 18, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

China launches plans for Moon missions, base, Mars probe

China launches plans for Moon missions, base, Mars probe

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing on Monday, China National Space Administration (CNSA) officials revealed that the forthcoming Chang'e-5 mission will be launched before the end of the year, and will bring Moon rock samples back to Earth.

China is relishing in the success of landing a lunar rover on the far side of the moon.

In addition to cotton seeds, Chang'e 4 also carried potato seeds, yeast and fruit fly eggs to the moon - all of which are insulated inside a protective biosphere.

Worldwide discussions about sending humans to the Moon and Mars have brought many challenges waiting to be solved, and among them is food supply. Regardless of whether the soil could support plants, the far side of the moon has high mountains, craters and few large, flat areas, said Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e-4 lunar lander.

The pioneering landing highlights China's ambitions to rival the US, Russia and Europe in space through manned flights and the planned construction of a permanent space station.

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The seeds sent aboard the Chinese lander each have specific roles to play in a future colony: potatoes are calorie-dense and a resilient food source, cotton could help produce clothing, and the rapeseed plants could be a source of oil.

China Surplus With US At A Record High
A slowdown in global demand and a trade dispute with the USA are being blamed for the current predicament China finds itself in. In December, exports and imports unexpectedly fell 4.4 percent and 7.6 percent respectively from a year earlier.

China became the fist nation to put a spacecraft on the far side of the moon when Chang'e 4 touched down in early January.

The rover, dubbed Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit), was preparing to go back to work after waking from five days of hibernation on Thursday.

China launched the first of its lunar probe series named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess Chang'e to orbit the moon in 2007. The state-run China Daily said this was the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.

Now, the China National Space Administration and its probe have completed another first.

Charles Cockell, a professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, told Newsweek that the latest achievement is "very significant" because it shows a proof of concept for growing plants on the moon.

The deputy director of China's space agency, Wu Yanhua, said that the Chang'e-4 mission marked a turning point for Chinese space exploration.

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