China will explore using 3D printing technology to construct buildings on the moon, the official China Daily reported on Monday, as Beijing solidifies plans for long-term lunar habitation.
In the 2020 Chinese lunar mission, the Chang'e 5, named after the mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, an uncrewed probe took back to Earth China's first lunar soil samples. China, which made its first lunar landing in 2013, plans to land an astronaut on the moon by 2030.
Between now and then, China will launch the Chang'e 6, 7 and 8 missions, with the latter tasked to look for reusable resources on the moon for long-term human habitation.
The Chang'e 8 probe will conduct on-site investigations of the environment and mineral composition, and also determine whether technologies such as 3D printing can be deployed on the lunar surface, China Daily reported, quoting Wu Weiren, a scientist at the China National Space Administration.
"If we wish to stay on the moon for a long time, we need to set up stations by using the moon's own materials," Wu said.
China wants to start building a lunar base using soil from the moon in five years, Chinese media reported earlier this month.
A robot tasked with making "lunar soil bricks" will be launched during the Chang'e 8 mission around 2028, according to an expert from the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
The race to set foot on the moon has intensified in recent years, particularly with the United States.
This month, NASA and Canada's space agency named four astronauts for the Artemis II mission planned for late 2024, in what would be the first human fly-by of the moon in decades.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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