China plans to land astronaut on the moon by 2030, official says

Chinese astronauts Gui Haichao, Jing Haipeng and Zhu Yangzhu
(Image credit: VCG / Contributor / Getty Images)

China plans to place astronauts on the moon by 2030 and expand its orbiting space station, government officials announced Monday. The announcement is the "highest-level confirmation of China's ambitions for a crewed lunar landing," per The New York Times.

"We can clasp the moon in the ninth heaven," said Lin Xiqiang, the deputy director of China's Manned Space Agency, at a news conference, quoting a poem by Mao Zedong.

Successfully launching a crewed lunar landing would be a "a major milestone" for space exploration as no human has been on the surface since the United States Apollo missions, the Times explained. It would also "mark a significant achievement for China in its burgeoning competition with the United States in space." China's top elected leader, Xi Jinping, has previously said that the country should become a "great space power."

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China became the third country to put a person into space behind the USSR and the U.S. after its first human-crewed space missions in 2003. The country built its own space station after being excluded from the International Space Station, "largely due to U.S. objections over the Chinese space programs' intimate ties to the PLA," The Associated Press noted. The U.S. has plans for a crewed lunar landing by the end of 2025 as part of renewed efforts to launch crewed missions, aided by private sector companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Both countries have considered permanent bases for crews on the moon, "raising questions about rights and interests on the lunar surface," AP added. The U.S. has laws against cooperation between the two countries' space agencies, while China claims to welcome collaboration from other countries, which has been limited to scientific research so far.

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Theara Coleman

Theara Coleman is a Staff Writer for The Week. A New York native, she previously served as a contributing writer and assistant editor for Honeysuckle Magazine, where she covered racial politics and cannabis industry news. Theara graduated from Howard University and New York University, receiving her BA and MA in English Literature, respectively. She has a background in education as a former High School English teacher. She brings her passion for reading, writing, and all things nerdy to her work as a journalist.