After being the first nation to successfully perform a soft landing on the half of Earth’s neighbor, Asian giants China is pledging to focus on what would surely be one of its greatest scientific accomplishments to date: building a lunar base.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency first reported the declaration, which was made by the head of China’s National Space Administration, Zhang Kejian, during a speech at China’s Space Day celebration.
The country’s immediate plans include launching the successor to the Chang’e-4 lander, called (predictably) the Chang’e-5, which will collect samples of lunar material and then return back to Earth.
That mission is expected to get underway by the end of 2019, and a Mars probe mission is also slated for 2020.
Plans for a base on the Moon are a bit more vague, however, with the country stating that it plans to build a “research station” near the South Pole of the Moon in order to facilitate exploration and make new discoveries.
China’s space agency says it will accomplish this within about ten years.