May 23, 2024

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Bill Blurr

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has shown off a CGI video of its vision of a lunar base, a vastly ambitious plan the country is hoping to realize in a matter of decades.

The showy — albeit dated-looking — render shows plans for the International Lunar Research Station, a Chinese and Russian endeavor that was first announced in 2021.

The video is also raising eyebrows for a bizarre cameo: a NASA Space Shuttle taking off from a launch pad in the distance, as spotted by Space.com.

It’s either some next-level humor from the Chinese space program or a hilarious oversight, since the Shuttle has been retired for more than a decade — not to mention that China and NASA aren’t even allowed to talk to each other, nevermind collaborate.

As space reporter Jack Kuhr later spotted, the state-run China Global Television Network came up with an equally hilarious fix to hide the Shuttle taking off in the background.

“Boom problem solved,” Kuhr tweeted. “CGTN went ahead and slapped an ol’ reliable blur bar over the Shuttle.”

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Challenging Endeavor

NASA retired its workhorse spacecraft in 2011, relying on Russia’s Soyuz capsules to staff the International Space Station until the advent of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

Over decades, the Space Shuttle has become an iconic symbol of space exploration — and likely the most accessible 3D asset of a launching spacecraft to include in a render of a Moon base. NASA’s fleet of Shuttles flew a total of 135 missions between 1981 and 2011.

It’s an especially ironic inclusion given growing US-China tensions. Just last month, NASA’s administrator Bill Nelson took aim at China, accusing its space program of hiding military experiments in Earth’s orbit.

But apart from bungling promotional videos, China’s space agency has made major headwinds in its efforts to explore space, from successfully landing a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon to building out an entire space station in a matter of just two years.

The country’s space agency is currently developing novel ways to construct lunar habitats using bricks made of lunar soil and is pondering whether to set up shop inside ancient lunar lava tubes.

In short, its marketing department may not exactly operate at the cutting edge, but if there’s one country that has proven that it can lead the charge in establishing a permanent presence on the lunar surface, it’s China.

More on China’s Moon base: China Announces Plans to Build Moon Base Using Lunar Soil

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