China is planning to build a base on the moon, according to aerospace science authorities, which experts said will improve the efficiency of the country's future lunar exploration missions.
In the initial stages, the planned moon base will be controlled by artificial intelligence robots, and after a manned lunar-landing, it will be occasionally managed by human beings, said Zhao Xiaojin, the Party chief of the China Academy of Space Technology at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
The unmanned base on the moon will greatly improve lunar exploration efficiency, as it will be able to provide many facilities that can be used for thorough scientific research, Jiao Weixin, a space science professor at Peking University, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Compared to the US's space station in lunar orbit, China's moon base will be more practical and efficient in conducting research, said Jiao, explaining that human beings in lunar orbit play only a limited role in lunar surface expeditions.
Lunar research relies mainly on sophisticated equipment to collect and analyze samples on the moon's surface, Jiao added.
There are three phases in China's lunar exploration program, and the last of these is now underway as the Chang'e-5 returns from the moon with a sample, Zhao told China Central Television CCTV in an interview.
In 2018, China's Chang'e 4 probe is expected to make a landing on the far side of the moon for the first time.
The relay satellite will be launched in the first half of 2018 and the Chang'e-4 lunar probe in the latter half of next year, the Xinhua News Agency reported.