Photo fromCreative Commons
2020 could very well be the year of the “Tài Kōng Ren” (太空人 astronaut), as China aims to land its first man on the moon within the next decade. The anticipated lunar landing marks the beginning of a new era in international space exploration and one in which China could lead the pack.
With the Obama administration’s recent decision to pull the plug on NASA’s moon mission program, “Constellation,” the lunar torch has officially been passed and China seems next in line.
Already among the leading extraterrestrial exploring countries, China became the 3rd nation to independently send a human into space with the launch of astronaut Yang Liwei aboard Shenzhou 5 in 2003. One year later in 2004, government officials announced the unmanned lunar exploration program which would probe rock samples and conditions on the moon. Today, China’s official space program CNSA already has plans to launch a second lunar probe in October–this time scanning the moon’s surface for prospective parking spaces for its future landing.
But, alas, China is not alone in shooting for the moon: the mission for another human touch-down on the lunar surface is simultaneously sought out by India (who plans to launch its first astronaut in 2016), and Japan (who already sent a satellite to the moon to capture astonishing footage of its surface).
All this man-on-the-moon talk makes it seem like it’s the 1957 space-race all over again. But this time the moon’s video footage comes crystal clear in HD quality and that Taikonaut is texting on his iPhone.