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Chinese official unveils future moon mission plans including possible lunar base

Chinese official unveils future moon mission plans including possible lunar base
© Twitter/China National Space Administration

A Chinese official revealed on Thursday future planning for more moon missions to eventually establish a lunar base and host human explorers.

The announcement by Deputy Chief Commander of the China Lunar Exploration Program Wu Yanhua comes on the heels of China's successful Chang'e 5 probe landing back on Earth Wednesday after it collected nearly 2 kilograms of moon rock samples, the Associated Press reported.

Wu did not offer any concrete dates for a crewed mission to the moon or for the construction of a base, though noted there are plans in the works for future probe missions with Chang'e 6, 7, and 8.

Additionally, Wu announced future explorations to collect samples from Mars, asteroids, and potential trips to the planet Jupiter.

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“China is willing to keep on contributing to the world and enhancing human well-being with Chinese space solutions,” Wu said.

The country's latest trip to the moon marked many firsts for the China National Space Administration (CNSA), including the collection of younger rock samples than the types Americans and the Soviet Union previously collected from 1969 to 1972. Additionally, the mission launched a lunar vehicle on the moon's surface used for transferring the rock samples.

“As our nation’s most complex and technically groundbreaking space mission, Chang’e 5 has achieved multiple technical breakthroughs ... and represents a landmark achievement,” CNSA said in a statement.

China became the third country in 2003 to send an astronaut into orbit following the late 20th-century space race between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The most recent Chang'e 5 probe was assisted by the European Space Agency, as well as Argentina, Namibia, and Pakistan, which work with China monitoring and communicating with its space vessel.