China and the US have plans to create nuclear moon bases

Perspective: China and the United States compete in many areas, and it looks like the moon could be another area of ​​contention for the two superpowers. The Asian nation plans to build its first moon base by 2028, and the White House wants to bring people to the surface by 2025.

South China Morning Post reports that the Chinese moon base is likely to be nuclear. Its basic configuration will consist of a lander, bunker, orbiter and rover and will be built by the Chang’e 6, 7 and 8 missions.

“We are currently developing a new system that uses nuclear power to meet the long-term high power needs of the lunar station,” Wu Weiran, chief developer of China’s lunar exploration program, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV earlier this week. “(We) hope that our astronauts will be able to go to the moon in 10 years.”

China has been challenging the United States in space exploration for years. The country is building its own space station and has sent probes to the moon – in 2019 it landed on the far side of the moon for the first time.

The base will most likely be built in the south polar region of the moon. Over time, it will develop into an international research station, and astronauts from China, Russia and other potential partner countries will work there from time to time, but most of the time it will be unmanned.

China’s announcement comes just a couple of weeks after the White House National Council on Science and Technology unveiled its new National Circumlunar Science and Technology Strategy. Some of the plans involve the Moon, including proposals for a permanent outpost near the south pole.

In June, NASA and the Department of Energy selected three companies, including Lockheed Martin, to develop ground-based fission power system concepts to provide nuclear power to the Moon.

In 2020, eight countries signed the US-led Artemis Accords, in which the signatories agree to interoperability, peaceful exploration, deconflicting activities, and more with the goal of avoiding conflicts in space. Just over 20 countries have already agreed to the principles, but Russia and China are two notable absentees.

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