A team of Chinese researchers is studying the possibility of building an underground lunar base through the moon’s lava tubes that would be used for China’s future manned moon missions.
Revealing the plan: Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology’s Zhang Chongfeng, who was also credited as the vice chief designer of the Shenzhou series spacecraft and moon landers, unveiled the study at the 10th CSA-IAA Conference on Advanced Space Technology held in Shanghai from Sept. 13 to 16.
Their study: Zhang said he and his team and other planetary geology experts from China studied lava tubes found in the country, which they believed to have similarities to the ones on the moon, to understand the underground structures better for the mission.
Different kinds of lava tubes: During the presentation, Zhang reportedly noted that lava tubes have two types of entrances, one with a vertical opening and another with a sloping entrance.
He explained that the vertical type of lava tube entrance would require a lifting mechanism for humans to get in and outside, while the sloping entrance provides a more suitable path without the need for machinery. Zhang noted that they have now chosen the Mare Tranquillitatis and Mare Fecunditatis lava tubes as the primary exploration targets.
Establishing a lunar base: The Chinese scientist also proposed building a long-term underground lunar research base, which could be accomplished by setting up a support center for communication and energy by the entrance of the tubes.
The team would also have to landscape the terrain in the tubes to prepare for multiple cabins with different functionalities, which would be placed inside the tunnels, such as residential and research.
Future mission: The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced its plans to conduct manned missions on the lunar surface before 2030 in May.
The CMSA is also asking the public to help them name the moon lander and the new generation crew spacecraft for the mission. The name, which can have a maximum of four Chinese characters, must highlight China’s intelligent manufacturing. The competition ends on Sept. 30.