China Reveals Date of First Manned Moon Mission: Rick Fisher on This Year’s Zhuhai Airshow

In this special episode, we sat down with Rick Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. He sheds light on China’s recent arms show at Zhuhai and what that means in terms of U.S.-China competition.

Fisher said: “The weapon that has been featured most heavily in Chinese state media is the first formal appearance of the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation J-20 fifth generation fighter. The J-20 first flew famously on Jan. 11, 2011, right about the same time that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was visiting China. It was viewed as an attempt to embarrass Bob Gates who had thought, who had said two years previous that China would have no stealth fighters by 2020. Well, the fact is that today, in 2022, China has close to 100 or perhaps slightly more than 100 of its J-20 fighters in service.”

He added: “The Zhuhai show has always had a very useful display from China’s main space companies. And also, there are an increasing number of displays from so-called private Chinese space companies that are entering the space launch business. But the big story from Zhuhai this week, two of them. The first is that China’s first manned space launch vehicle for its moon mission, called the Long March 5G, is going to start testing in 2027. This is the first time that date has been revealed.”

“If China starts testing the Long March 5G in 2027, it is possible that China could begin to put people on the moon in 2029. That’s important because the United States may not be able to put people on the moon until about 2026. We’re given technical and financial issues, maybe 2027. And all of this means is that the moon race will be effectively running in a dead heat. And this is also important because of the second revelation that China’s Long March 9, its super heavy space launch vehicle, could begin testing in 2030.”

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