China Challenges NASA Space Dominance, Plans to Build Nuclear-Powered Moon Base

China plans to build its first base on the moon by 2028 as the country steps up its challenge to NASA’s dominance in space exploration.

| Updated on: Nov 26 2022, 00:52 IST
In Pics: Moon to turn red this lunar eclipse 2022; know why Blood Moon rises
Total Lunar Eclipse 2022
1/5 Total lunar eclipse date: The last total lunar eclipse of 2022 will occur on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. This will be the last total lunar eclipse for about three years as the next total lunar eclipse will be occurring on March 14, 2025. However, we will continue to see partial and penumbral lunar eclipses during these three years. (REUTERS)
Total lunar eclipse 2022
2/5 What is a lunar eclipse? A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align so that the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow. In a total lunar eclipse, the entire Moon falls within the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra. When the Moon is within the umbra, it will turn a reddish hue. Lunar eclipses are sometimes called “Blood Moons” because of this phenomenon. (Pixabay)
Lunar eclipse
3/5 Why does the Moon turn red during a lunar eclipse: According to NASA Moon, the same phenomenon that makes our sky blue and our sunsets red causes the Moon to turn red during a lunar eclipse. It’s called Rayleigh scattering. Light travels in waves, and different colors of light have different physical properties. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and is scattered more easily by particles in Earth’s atmosphere than red light, which has a longer wavelength. Red light, on the other hand, travels more directly through the atmosphere. (Pixabay)
Know why the Moon turns red during lunar eclipse.
4/5 Why does the Moon turn red during a lunar eclipse? During a lunar eclipse, the Red Moon rises because the only sunlight reaching the Moon passes through Earth’s atmosphere. The more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio)
image caption
5/5 How to watch the total lunar eclipse: You don’t need any special equipment to observe a lunar eclipse, although binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view and the red color. A dark environment away from bright lights makes for the best viewing conditions. (REUTERS)
View all Images
A camera on Orion's solar array wing captures a view of the spacecraft, the Earth and the Moon as part of the Artemis I mission. (via REUTERS)

China plans to build its first base on the moon by 2028, ahead of landing astronauts there in subsequent years as the country steps up its challenge to NASA's dominance in space exploration. 

The lunar base will likely be powered by nuclear energy, Caixin reported. Its basic configuration will consist of a lander, hopper, orbiter and rover, all of which would be constructed by the Chang'e 6, 7 and 8 missions. 

“Our astronauts will likely be able to go to the moon within 10 years,” Wu Weiran, chief designer of China's lunar exploration program, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV earlier this week. Nuclear energy can address the lunar station's long-term, high-power energy needs, he said.

China has ramped up its ambitions in space in recent years, sending probes to the moon, building its own space station and setting its sights on Mars. The plans have put it in direct competition with the US. NASA has a rover on the Red Planet and is seeking to return astronauts to the moon this decade for the first time since the Apollo program ended in the 1970s. 

Both China and the US are spending billions of dollars to not just put humans on the moon, but also to access resources that could foster life on the lunar surface or send spacecraft to Mars.

In 2019, China became the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon, and later brought back its first lunar samples. The base is intended to be the first outpost on the moon's South Pole, an area scientists think is the best place to find water. NASA is also targeting that part of the moon. China aims to eventually expand the base into an international research station.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 26 Nov, 00:23 IST