China is developing a new nuclear system to power its Moon base, according to a report in South China Morning Post (SCMP). China has stepped up the pace of its space programme in the past decade, with exploration of the Moon a focus. China made its first lunar uncrewed landing in 2013 and expects to launch rockets powerful enough to send astronauts to the Moon towards the end of this decade. American space agency NASA has said that China might be contemplating a “takeover” of the Moon as part of its military space program, allegation that has been rejected by Beijing.
About the decision to use nuclear energy to power China’s station at the Moon’s South Pole, the SCMP report quoted the chief of the lunar project Wu Weiran as saying, “We are now developing a new system that uses nuclear energy to address the moon station’s long-term, high-power energy demands.”
Mr Wu did not give any details about the space agency’s plans, the Chinese outlet said it could generate 1 megawatt of electricity, which is enough to power hundreds of homes for a year.
The power generated by nuclear energy will be used to generate oxygen, operate instruments and other things like extract water.
China’s Moon station is expected to be completed by 2028, the SCMP report further said.
China is expected to launch more uncrewed lunar missions in coming years, with the study of water one of the objectives.
The presence of water on the moon could shed more light on the evolution of the solar system. It could also point the way to in-situ water resources vital to any long-term human habitation.
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