South Africa Collaborates with China to Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Source: Universe Today

The Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, representing the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) Chief Executive Officer, Humbulani Mudau, on 1 September 2023, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the International Lunar Research Station Cooperation (ILRS).

This development cements CNSA’s and SANSA’s collaborative partnership to carry out cooperative efforts in the demonstration, implementation, operation, and application of the ILRS, as well as providing training exercises. In addition, the ILRS project aims to construct a permanent lunar base in the 2030s. 

Furthermore, China has outlined a comprehensive roadmap that includes a series of robotic missions throughout the 2020s as precursors to the lunar base construction. These missions encompass the Chang’e-7 lunar exploration mission targeted for 2026, focusing on the lunar south pole, and the Chang’e-8 mission scheduled for 2028, primarily dedicated to in-situ resource utilisation and 3D-printing technology test missions. 

Similarly, five significant infrastructural missions utilising super heavy-lift launchers to construct the lunar base are expected to be launched in the 2030s. Although the initial phases of this endeavour will involve robotic operations, the ultimate goal is for the base to accommodate astronauts. 

To ensure the achievement of the project’s milestones, China is establishing an organisation known as the International Lunar Research Station Cooperation Organisation (ILRSCO). This organisation will serve as the coordinating body for the international moon base initiative. China has expressed its commitment to finalise signing agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with various space agencies and organisations as founding members of ILRSCO by October 2023.

The ILRSCO headquarters will be in Deep Space Science City in Hefei, Anhui province. It will include facilities dedicated to various aspects of the moon base project, including design simulation, operation control, data processing, sample storage, research, and international training centres.


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