The Chinese government is seeking to build a lunar base from moon soil within the next five years, according to reports. Beijing is now studying the potential development of robots called Super Masons capable of building lunar bricks for a future moon base.
In an interview with China Science Daily, Ding Lieyun, an official from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, outlined how the expansion to the moon was a vital step to the success of future space exploration.
“Eventually, building habitation beyond Earth is essential not only for all humanity’s quest for space exploration but also for China’s strategic needs as a space power,” Ding said. He added that the first bricks for the station would be produced in 2028.
The latest announcement by Beijing comes as NASA and the United States Department of Energy announced several years ago that it would explore options to build nuclear power plants on the moon.
Speaking to CNBC, the Director of the Space Nuclear and Isotope Technologies Division at Idaho National Laboratory, Steve Johnson, said he hoped the US project would be enacted by 2028.
“We really are striving to bring the commercial nuclear industry innovation to the table to work with NASA and the aerospace industry utilizing existing technologies,” Johnson told CNBC.
National security experts say that China’s latest announcement could challenge US national security, given that Russia, Iran, and other anti-American regimes are trying to use it to support their forces and spy on Western countries and their military technology.
In December 2019, the Trump administration launched the US Space Force as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, creating the sixth branch of the US Armed Services to protect America’s interests in outer space from regimes that seek to use the frontier against the US.
Energy experts say that the moon contains sources of waste-free nuclear energy, including rich uranium, thorium, deuterium, and lithium. One rare resource, Lunar3HE, could support countries that want to power their economies and energy capabilities.
Should either country successfully harness the moon for natural resources and create nuclear power stations, it could help provide the power needed to support space missions to other planets, such as the potential colonization of Mars and other planets.
Following NASA’s landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars, some have argued that colonization of the planet has been more viable, with experts saying that mining water and fuel sources could allow for exploration by 2050.