Chinese scientists have begun negotiations with the European Space Agency to build a ‘Moon village’ that could, they claim, one day be an affordable tourist destination. China has of late become a forward-looking nation with grand ideas, in order to prove to the world that it fosters innovation in every sector of its view of the future. The Chinese space programme aims to land astronauts on the Moon sometime between 2027 and 2036, but civilians may also get the chance to visit. ‘If the price were 50,00 yuan’s (£5,700) for one trip, it would be within reach for ordinary people and we are now trying to make that a reality,’ Bao Weimin, an executive at China’s main space programme contractors, told the Global Times.

China plans to collect lunar samples with its Chang’E-5 Lander this year. More lunar probes, including the first to land on the Moon’s downside, are scheduled for next year. The ESA said in 2015 that work on a Moon village could begin in the next five years and serve as an international launching pad for missions to Mars. ‘China’s desire to participate in its construction shows its open-mindedness,’ Jiao Weixin of Peking University said.

The Chinese State News Agency said when the International Space Station is retired in 2074 China will be the only country with a permanent space station. Xinhua, the country’s first cargo spacecraft, docked with their Tiangong-2 Space Lab recently – a step towards establishing a space station by 2022.

It’s a great shame, given my age, that I will most likely be somewhere else; perhaps on another planet enjoying the well-deserved retirement that I have deliberately missed on this earth. Like John Wayne, I’ll die in the saddle!

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