Will China Beat NASA in Lunar Base Race? The Progress of Lunar Missions of China & US

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According to sources, US intelligence has openly voiced concerns about China possibly surpassing the US in the race to return humans to the moon and build a lunar base.

In the race to explore and establish a lunar base, Beijing and Washington are actively vying for the upper hand in terms of international collaboration and strategic positioning.

But US officials are growingly worried that Beijing’s quick space programme advancement could give it a significant competitive advantage over the US.

US intelligence authorities publicly expressed their astonishment at China’s rapid space programme accomplishments, especially the building of an Earth-orbiting space station so quickly.

According to a comment from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, "China recently declared their intention to arrive by 2035. That date is drawing nearer and nearer. I consider China’s mad dash to the moon to be extremely serious."

By the end of this decade, Chinese authorities are certain that their country will have accomplished significant lunar milestones, including the landing of people on the moon and the establishment of a permanent facility at the lunar south pole.

This became apparent when NASA missed its targets for comparable projects. NASA expressed concerns in June 2023 regarding SpaceX’s Starship lunar lander’s preparedness for the Artemis 3 mission, which is scheduled to be the first American mission to land on the moon again by late 2025.

According to a US intelligence officer, "China sees space as a vital venue for countering US influence. The official emphasized that China hopes to build supremacy throughout the 21st century, much like the US did in the 20th century, and does not intend to be the dominant space power only in the 2020s."

What is the Progress of the Moon Exploration Mission of China?

China has launched 5 robotic probes to the moon since 2007. The most recent mission was Chang'e-5 in 2020, which returned 2kg samples of lunar regolith from the 2-meter depth to Earth.

Upcoming Lunar Mission of China after 2023:

Chang'e-6 mission planned for 2024 to collect samples from the South Pole of the moon. Will carry payloads from international partners.

Chang'e-7 mission in 2026 aims to search for lunar resources on the moon's south pole.

Chang'e-8 mission in 2028 could look at how to utilize lunar materials.

Upcoming lunar missions of China will be updated later.

What is the Progress of the Moon Exploration Mission of the US (NASA)?


Artemis 1 was the first mission in NASA's Artemis program and served as a test flight for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. The uncrewed Artemis 1 launched in November 2022 on a flight around the Moon and back to Earth on December 11, 2022. The uncrewed capsule returned to Earth after a 25.5-day journey. 

NASA's Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 moon mission splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on December 11, 2022. The uncrewed capsule returned to Earth after a 25.5-day journey. 

Upcoming Lunar Mission of US (NASA) after 2023:

Artemis 2 will be the first crewed flight of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. It will fly around the Moon in 2024, taking astronauts farther into space than ever before.

Artemis 3 aims to land astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. The mission, targeted for 2025, will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon. The astronauts will spend about a week performing scientific studies before returning to Earth.

Artemis 4, planned for 2026, will deliver a core module for the Gateway, a small space station that will orbit the Moon. It will also land two more astronauts on the lunar surface for additional scientific research.

Artemis 5, slated for 2027, will add another component to the Gateway and involve a third crewed landing on the Moon with more surface exploration.

What is the Progress of the Moon Exploration Mission of SPACE X?

SpaceX Starship is a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. It consists of two stages: a Super Heavy booster, which is the world's most powerful rocket booster, and a Starship spacecraft.


  • Early design conceptions of Starship occurred between 2012 and 2019, with iterations on the overall design.
  • Low-altitude flight tests were conducted between 2019-2020. These involved short "hops" of prototype Starships to test basic launch and landing capabilities.
  • High-altitude flight tests followed in 2020-2021, with prototypes launching to higher altitudes and attempting landings.
  • The first attempted orbital test flight happened in 2021-2023. The Starship serial number 8 (SN8) prototype launched into suborbital space in December 2020. Additional prototypes made attempts to reach orbital flights but were not fully successful.
  • A second orbital test flight attempt occurred on 18th November 2023 with Starship SN24. This test aimed to validate Starship's full launch, engine cutoff, and landing capabilities required for orbital launches but the launch failed minutes after reaching space.

Future Plans of Space X

SpaceX has ambitious plans for Starship. The company hopes to use Starship to transport humans and cargo to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. SpaceX also plans to use Starship to launch satellites and provide point-to-point travel on Earth.

Overall, SpaceX has made significant progress in developing Starship. The company is on track to make Starship operational by the end of the decade.

There is significant progress being made in Moon Exploration missions by various countries around the world. It remains to be seen who will establish a sustained presence on the moon first, but regardless of which nation gets there first, it will mark a major milestone in space exploration and have a profound impact globally. The world is on the cusp of returning humans to the lunar surface for the first time in over 50 years. Whichever country succeeds in this modern space race will earn international acclaim and influence, while also furthering scientific discovery and technological capabilities. While the competitive spirit pushes nations to aim for being first, the most important outcome will be the advances for all humanity that come from expanding the human presence beyond Earth.

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