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China’s Lunar Mission: Journey to the Moon by 2030

The Space Race is back and hotter than ever since the 20th century. Nations and private companies are racing to the moon not just for a flyby but for sustained exploration and potential resource utilization. China is at the forefront of this new lunar frontier and has made tremendous progress in space exploration over the past decade. During a news conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, china in late may 2023, officials annouced thier intentions to place astronauts on the moon before 2023 along with plans of expanding the country’s orbiting space station.

This would be a historic achievement not just for China but for all of humanity. It would be a new era of lunar exploration where humans would establish a permanent presence on our celestial neighbor. But what does this mean for the future of space exploration and what are the challenges and opportunities ahead?

China’s Recent Successes

An image illustration showing chang'e 6 on the moon
An image illustration showing chang’e 6 on the moon

China’s rise as a space power has been meteoric. They started their space program decades after the US and the Soviet Union but have closed the gap rapidly in recent years. Their Chang’e missions, named after the Chinese moon goddess, have been impressive. Chang’e 3 in 2013 landed softly on the moon and deployed the Yutu rover to explore the lunar surface. This was the first lunar landing since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.

China continued to wow the world in 2019 when Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon, a feat never done before. The mission provided valuable information about the composition and history of this unexplored region and cemented China’s position as the leader in lunar exploration.

Following this success, in 2020, Chang’e 5 collected and returned lunar samples to Earth, the first time in over 40 years that lunar material was brought back for scientific research. The samples have given scientists a treasure trove of data to study the moon’s geological evolution and composition.

Chang’e 6 continued this lunar exploration trend in 2024. Launched from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, it landed on the far side of the moon (Southern mare of Apollo Basin map) on June 1st and brought back 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of lunar soil and rock. The samples returned to Earth on June 25th landing in the deserts of Inner Mongolia.

Moon sample container removed from Chang’e-6 capsule by researchers (Video Credit: Video From Space)

The Roadmap to a Crewed Lunar Landing by 2030

By 2030, the Chinese people will definitely be able to set foot on the moon. That’s not a problem,” Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the lunar exploration program confidently stated during the interview with China Media Group. With a series of successful lunar missions under their belt, China’s ambitious goal of landing taikonauts on the moon by 2030 appears increasingly feasible.

The roadmap to this crewed landing began with the Chang’e-6 mission, that launched about two months ago. The mission collected samples from the far side of the Moon, a region that has long fascinated scientists due to its unique features and potential to provide insights into the early history of the solar system. Xu Yi, an assistant professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology, expressed his excitement about the Chang’e-6 mission, stating, “I have been analyzing the scientific data of the Chang’e-4 mission that landed on the far side of the moon, and I am constantly excited to have new findings from the ongoing rover data.”

Chang’e 7 & 8: China’s Groundbreaking Next Steps in Space!(Video Credit: Spaceeyenews)

Building upon the success of Chang’e-6, the Chang’e-7 mission, slated for 2026, will explore the lunar south pole, a region believed to contain valuable water ice resources. This will be followed by the Chang’e-8 mission in 2028, which will test key technologies for the construction of a future lunar base, including in-situ resource utilization and 3D printing.

These robotic missions will pave the way for the crewed lunar landing that China is targeting for before 2030. The mission will utilize a new generation of Long March rockets and spacecraft, including the Mengzhou crew vehicle and Lanyue lunar lander, to deliver two taikonauts to the lunar surface for a six-hour stay.

Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, emphasized the progress made in the development of these critical components, stating, “The development of mechanical and thermal test products for the crew spacecraft and lander have been basically completed. Various rocket engines are undergoing hotfire tests, and the Wenchang crewed lunar exploration launch site is under construction.” This preparations shows China’s commitment to achieving this historic milestone.

The Significance of a Chinese Moon Landing

China & Russia to build International Lunar Research Station at the moon’s south pole in the 2030s
China & Russia to build International Lunar Research Station at the moon’s south pole in the 2030s (Image credit: CNSA/Roscosmos)

A successful Chinese crewed lunar landing mission would have significant implications for international relations and global power dynamics. It would be a major technological and strategic achievement for China, reflecting a high degree of confidence in its deep space capabilities. This could bolster the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic legitimacy by accomplishing one of the greatest technological feats, something only previously achieved by the United States.

The mission would also intensify the ongoing competition between China and the United States for leadership in space exploration. China’s International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) initiative is seen as competing with the U.S.-led Artemis Accords for international partners, as the two programs vie for influence and access to the Moon.

Beyond the geopolitical implications, a Chinese crewed lunar landing could also have a significant impact on the global space industry. China’s space program serves three main purposes: national social and economic development, national defense, and prestige and great-power competition. Success in this endeavor could propel China to the forefront of the global space industry, challenging the dominance of established space powers.

However, there are also concerns that the sophisticated technologies being developed for these missions could be diverted for military purposes, adding a potential security dimension to China’s lunar ambitions.


China’s lunar program is a game changer in space exploration. With its recent successes and clear plan to land a manned mission by 2030, China is now a major player in the new space race. This has big implications not just for science but for geopolitics, international cooperation and the global space industry.

As China goes ahead, the world watches with bated breath. The potential for scientific discovery and technological innovation is huge but so too are the challenges of keeping space peaceful. The next few years will see more competition but also opportunities for space faring nations to collaborate.

Selig Amoak
Selig Amoak
Selig is a passionate space enthusiast and advocate. He has been fascinated by space since he was a child, and his passion has only grown over the years. Selig is particularly interested in the exploration of Mars and the search for life beyond Earth. Selig is also a strong believer in the importance of space education and outreach. He is currently a student at the University of Mines and Technology, and he is excited to use his skills and knowledge to contribute to the space education community.


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