Representatives of the Chinese government and the European Space Agency have been in talks regarding the construction of a possible moon base in the near future, it has been revealed.
Tian Yulong, the secretary general of China’s space agency, disclosed the talks on Chinese state media, which Pal Hvistendahl, a spokesman for the ESA, then later confirmed. “The Chinese have a very ambitious moon program already in place,” Hvistendahl said. “Space has changed since the space race of the ’60s. We recognise that to explore space for peaceful purposes, we do need international co-operation.”
Details of the project have been kept securely under wraps, but the director general of the ESA, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, fleshed out an idea for a moon village in an interview last year:
If I say Moon Village, it does not mean single houses, a church, a town hall and so on. No, that would be misleading. My idea only deals with the core of the concept of a village: people working and living together in the same place. And this place would be on the Moon.
In the Moon Village we would like to combine the capabilities of different space-faring nations, with the help of robots and astronauts. The participants can work in different fields, perhaps they will conduct pure science and perhaps there will even be business ventures like mining or tourism. The Moon Village would also act as a ‘pit stop’ for the further exploration of the Universe. The ESA is eager to fly to Mars as well.
Last week, an unmanned spacecraft was launched on a mission to dock with China’s unoccupied space station, which is currently in orbit. The ESA hopes to have a European on board the station in another future collaboration.
China also plans to launch a mission to the dark side of the moon sometime next year, which would be the first of its kind in that region of the moon, collecting mineral samples for further analysis.