Buoyed by the success of soft landing of its spacecraft Chang’e-4 on the far side of the moon, China has drawn up ambitious plans for the future. China National Space Administration (CNSA) has announced intentions to occupy the moon and begin construction work on a moon base within the next decade. Zhang Kejian, the administrator of CNSA, has identified a probable location for the facility near the moon's South Pole.

This area has deposits of ice, which can produce water. Since water is vital for survival, other countries will be able to share it.

Daily Mail UK reports the proposed lunar base of China will serve as a research platform apart from a refueling station for travel to other destinations like Mars. The announcement coincided with China's National Space Day and the 46th anniversary of the launch of its first artificial satellite, Dongfanghong.

Moon is the new frontier

The feat of landing Chang’e-4 on the far side of the moon has brought China into the limelight because it has done something that no one else has ever attempted. The far side is an unexplored territory, the equipment on board the rover is engaged in analyzing the chemistry of rocks, and comparing it with what is available on Earth. High temperatures during the day force the rover to go into hibernation mode.

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On the subject of the decade time frame, Chinese-American NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao said, “'It’s an aggressive timeline, but not impossible.” China has another moon mission lined up this year to collect and return samples of moon rock for analysis and display back on the Earth.

Daily Mail UK goes on to add that the region, selected by China, matches with a future US manned space mission and NASA has already mapped the area.

In the opinion of President Xi Jinping, future space missions will lead to growth in, not just aviation, but in associated fields like robotics and artificial intelligence which play a major role in space research. Robots like Curiosity and InSight are already operating on Mars. Incidentally, the Trump administration wants US astronauts to return to the moon by 2024 and Russia has plans for a habitable lunar base by 2035. China will have an advantage if it completes its moonbase within a decade.

China has its work cut out

According to Futurism, China National Space Administration has outlined plans for lunar probes, a new orbital space station, and an unmanned mission to Mars mission. These will help China to emerge as a force in the field of space exploration. CNSA has plans on the anvil to replace the International Space Station once it is retired in 2024 or set up a base on the moon and it is working towards that goal.

It will have to take care of logistics like training its astronauts to spend extended periods on the Moon, adjusting to alien living conditions, getting used to isolation etcetera.

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