China puts models of its future crewed moon landing spacecraft on display (video)

China is displaying models of the rockets and spacecraft it is developing to send its astronauts to the moon.

The event, the "Exhibition of Achievements in China Manned Space Program," opened in Shanghai at the New International Expo Center on Dec. 29.

The exhibition features the Long March 10 rocket, a lunar lander spacecraft and a next-generation crew spacecraft. 

Related: Not just Artemis: China and Russia plan to put boots on the moon, too

An illustration of a Chinese moon base. (Image credit: gremlin/Getty Images)

The Long March 10 builds on China's current rocket, the Long March 5. The next-gen spacecraft inherits technology from the current Shenzhou spacecraft that sends astronauts to China's Tiangong space station. China has already conducted three successful robotic lunar landings with the Chang'e 3, 4 and 5 missions.

China's moon landing plan is to launch two Long March 10 rockets, with one for the lander and another for the crew spacecraft. The lander and the crewed spacecraft will rendezvous and dock in lunar orbit. A pair of astronauts will then move over to the lander and then head down to the lunar surface, where they will do a variety of scientific work and collect some moon samples during a stay lasting around six hours.

"The development of the lunar lander and the new spacecraft is still taking advantage of the previous technologies. We are also accelerating the assessment and development of the manned lunar rover," Fan Ping, chief designer of space stations at Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), told China Central Television.

"China has announced the goal of landing people on the moon by 2030," Fan Ping said. "And after the goal is accomplished, the next could be the building of a lunar research station, so that we can establish our own home on the moon for more scientific experiments."

China is currently working on attracting partners for a project called the International Lunar Research Station. The country, together with Russia and other partners, aims to begin building the lunar outpost after launching precursor Chang'e 7 and 8 missions around 2026 and 208.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.