China plans to build a prototype for a lunar scientific research station in the fourth phase of the country's lunar exploration program, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of the program.
The prototype, which will consist of multiple detectors operating in lunar orbit and on the lunar surface, will be capable of conducting scientific and technological research on the moon, as well as technical verification of lunar resource exploration and utilization, said Wu at the Wenchang International Aviation &Aerospace Forum, which concluded Wednesday in Wenchang City, south China's island province of Hainan.
With the planned prototype, Chinese scientists will seek cooperation with their international counterparts to build an international lunar scientific research station, said Wu, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
On Tuesday, China launched the Chang'e-5 spacecraft to collect and return samples from the moon, the country's first attempt to retrieve samples from an extraterrestrial body. It marked the end of the third phase of China's lunar exploration program.
According to the plan of the fourth phase of the program, the Chang'e-7 spacecraft will conduct a comprehensive exploration of the moon's Antarctic topography, material composition and space environment, said Wu.
The Chang'e-8 spacecraft will be tasked with conducting further scientific tests as well as the verification of key technologies, the scientist added.