Belfast Telegraph

China and Europe to build a base on the moon and launch other projects into space

If space is to be explored peacefully it will require 'international collaboration' a spokesperson for the European Space Agency said

China and Europe are looking to build a human outpost on the moon.

Representatives of the Chinese and European space agencies have discussed collaborating on a moonbase and other possible joint endeavours, according to spoekespeople and media reports.

The work was first revealed by the secretary general for China's space agency, Tian Yulong, who told Chinese state media about the talks. A spokesperson for the European Space Agency, Pal Hvistendahl, confirmed the discussions.

"The Chinese have a very ambitious moon program already in place," Hvistendahl said. "Space has changed since the space race of the '60s. We recognize that to explore space for peaceful purposes, we do international cooperation."

The director general of the 22-member ESA, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, has described its proposed "Moon Village" as a potential international launching pad for future missions to Mars and a chance to develop space tourism or even lunar mining.

China arrived relatively late to space travel but has ramped up its program since its first manned spaceflight in 2003, more than 42 years after a Soviet cosmonaut became the first to reach orbit.

Last week the China National Space Administration launched an unmanned spacecraft on a mission to dock with its currently unoccupied space station. It plans to launch a mission to collect samples from the moon by the end of this year and next year conduct the first mission to the moon's far side and bring back mineral samples.

The ESA hopes to conduct a mission analysis on samples brought back by this year's Chinese mission, known as Chang'e 5, and also have a European flying on the Chinese space station at some future date, Hvistendahl said. Neither prospect has been finalized.

China was excluded from the International Space Station mainly due to US legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program's strong military connections.

Independent News Service