Technology news

China plans more moon missions after finding new lunar mineral

China plans to launch three unmanned missions to the moon over the next 10 years as it seeks to compete with the United States in the new era of space exploration.

China’s National Space Administration, its NASA equivalent, has received permission to send three orbiters to the moon as part of the Chang’e lunar program, said Liu Jizhong, an official with the China Center. lunar exploration and space program, according to the state agency. CCTV.

The announcement came a day after China said it had discovered a new lunar mineral, via samples recovered by its Chang’e-5 mission. Named Changesite-(Y), it was described by the official Xinhua news agency as a sort of colorless transparent columnar crystal. It is said to contain helium-3, an isotype that has been speculated as a future energy source.

China has stepped up its ambitions in space in recent years, sending probes to the moon, building its own space station and targeting Mars, plans that have put it in direct competition with the United States. NASA has a rover on the Red Planet and is looking to send astronauts to the moon again this decade. Both countries are eyeing minerals from the moon, with space mining expected to be the next source of tension.

The two sides have traded barbs in recent weeks after the US Artemis I mission, its first major push to return to the Moon in half a century, was delayed. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has accused China of stealing space technology, and the country has been criticized for space debris.

Established in 2004, China’s lunar exploration program launched its first spacecraft three years later. The Chang’e program is named after the Chinese moon goddess and has recently focused on collecting samples from the lunar surface. The Chang’e-7 program will target the moon’s south pole, a region scientists believe is the best place to find water. NASA is also targeting this part of the moon.

China eventually aims to build an international research station based on the Moon, Liu, a government official, said on Saturday.