China is now planning to begin full-scale work of its third space station by 2022 to later release astronauts later this decade into the lunar base and send probes to Mars, including those that could return Mars area patterns to Earth.
Although the moon is scarcely vulnerable to decades of research, the new landing is far more than a massive propaganda strike, experts say.
The crater in which the Chinese disembarked is the oldest and deepest on the Moon, so that the discoveries of the probes can provide insight into the origin and evolution of the moon. Some scientists suspect that the surrounding pool might be rich in minerals. If exploitation of the moon's resources is the next step in the development of the universe, a successful mission could leave the Chinese better positioned.
"This is a great technical and symbolic achievement," said Namrata Goswami, an independent analyst who wrote about the Minerva research institute at the Ministry of Defense. "China sees this landing just as a springboard, as it also looks to its future landing on the Moon Creation, as its long-term goal is to colonize the moon and use it as a huge supply of energy."
The site investigated, Goswami said, could become a future fuel charge base for deeper missionaries in the way the "navy watched the drying stations for filling and fueling."
Chang & # 39; e-4 was launched from Xichang, southwest China, early on December 8, and slipped into the final, lower orbit around the moon on Sunday, 22 days later.
He landed on Von Kármán, a flat surface of about 177 kilometers, located within a larger pool near the southern half of the moon. The main flying boat will release a 136 kilogram rover that will, besides failure, wander the crater. (The name of the rover, subject of a public call and voting, has not yet been published.)
Lender and rover instruments include cameras, ground-penetrating radar, and spectrometers that help identify the cluster of meteorite regions. Scientists hope that rocks and impurities in the area will contribute to the understanding of the geological nature of the moon.
Lander will also carry out a biological experiment to determine whether plant seeds will germinate, and egg silk worms will slip in the low gravity of the moon.
Since the Moon blocks direct communication from the far side, China has launched a satellite that will act as a relay, allowing the rover to first reject signals before returning to Earth scientists.
Before the landing, reports about Chang & # 39; e-4 were pretty rare – leaving astronomers and amateurs looking for traces.
By contrast, recent US space officials have been openly excited about the success of NASA's spacecraft, New Horizons, to capture a photograph of Ultima Thule, the small, ice-like world, 6.4 billion kilometers from Earth.
Some people may ask, "So what?" said John M. Logsdon, a professor emeritus at the George Washington University Institute of Space Policy, but scientists have a different opinion.
"Learn about the Moon," said Logsdon. "It goes to a place that no spacecraft has ever visited, so it's a true research."
Membership of China in the elite ranks of space nations is undoubtedly a source of national pride, strongly emphasized the strong and stable leadership of the Communist Party.
China is the only third country – followed by the United States and Russia – to send their astronauts to space on their missiles. The first mission with the crew was held in 2003, and the Chinese have since sent a total of 11 astronauts to the universe. In 2016, two of them spent 30 days in the Chinese Space Station.
In 2018 China for the first time introduced more missiles – 38 – than any other country; one launch failed in October. Another landing for the month of Chang & # 39; e-5 is planned for this year.
Many of the launches last year carried satellites for their own Chinese version of the Global Positioning System, which already covers China and most of Asia. China hopes that its system, named Beidou, will cover the whole world until next year and become a commercial and political opponent to the United States.
If the International Space Station was put out of operation – Trump administration suggested that by 2025 federal funding be completed – Tiangong-2 could become the only space station in orbit. The international space station hosted astronauts from more than ten countries, but China has never been among them.
New York Times