China wants to start using lunar soil to build lunar bases as early as this decade

BEIJING (Reuters) – China wants to start building a lunar base using lunar soil within five years, Chinese media reported, with the ambitious plan to start as early as this decade.

Local media reported that more than 100 Chinese scientists, researchers and space contractors recently gathered at a conference in the central Chinese city of Wuhan to discuss ways to build infrastructure on the moon.

A team is designing a robot called “Chinese Super Mason” to make bricks from moon soil, said Ding Liyun, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, according to Changjiang Daily.

“Building a habitat on the moon is essential for long-term lunar exploration, and will certainly be achieved in the future,” Ding said, while acknowledging the difficulty of achieving this in the short term, according to the report.

The robot tasked with making “lunar soil bricks” will be launched during China’s Chang’e-8 mission around 2028, Ding said, adding that the country aims to retrieve the world’s first soil sample from the far side of the moon in 2028. The mission is around 2025.

State media reported that China previously recovered soil samples from the near side of the Moon on the Chang’e-5 mission in 2020.

The country has stated that it wants its astronauts to stay on the moon for long periods of time once it establishes a lunar research station.

Ding and dozens of experts were attending the extraterrestrial construction conference held at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan last weekend.

Additional reporting by Ethan Wang, Bernard Orr and Ryan Wu; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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