China talks about moon outpost with European Space Agency

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Human settlement on moon could soon be a possibility. A USA law was passed in 2011 barring the collaboration of the two countries on the International Space Station.

Meanwhile, ESA director general Johann-Dietrich Woerner mentioned the proposed "Moon Village" and said it would be an worldwide launching pad for future missions to Mars and serve as a tool to develop space tourism and lunar mining. It may be noted here that NASA and many other government-run as well as private entities are making efforts to colonize the Red Planet sometime in the future.

Despite arriving to space exploration relatively late compared with the U.S. and Russian Federation (particularly under the Soviet Union), China has ramped up its efforts over the past few decades to the point that it is the most likely to land humans on the moon for the first time this century. Just last week, China sent an uncrewed spacecraft to the orbiting station on a mission to dock with it.

Tian also said that mankind will complete an unmanned mission to the dark side of the moon by the end of 2018, the first such landing in history.

China was late to the space exploration game but has caught up rapidly, becoming the third country to send a human into space in 2003 and launching everything from cargo ships to satellite since.

Pal Hvistendahl, a representative from the ESA, said:"We recognise that to explore space for peaceful purposes, we do global cooperation".

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Speaking at a conference in January, Mr Wörner said: "For me, the Moon village is already more or less a fact. No, that would be misleading".

"In the Moon Village we would like to combine the capabilities of different spacefaring nations, with the help of robots and astronauts".

The cooperation with ESA on the moon village will be beneficial for China in accomplishing the space goals. "Esa is eager to fly to Mars as well".

NASA engineers and scientists are now developing systems to harness resources like water, which should be available in some regions of the Martian or lunar surface, to support long-lasting missions.

"We've been successful in using electric LED (light emitting diode) lighting to grow plants", Dr. Wheeler said.

"This is where our Moon comes into play - it is the ideal stepping stone to Mars".