China plans three missions to the moon after discovering a new lunar mineral that could be a future energy source

(ORDO NEWS) — The space race between China and the US is accelerating after Beijing’s National Space Administration received approval to launch three orbiters to the moon over the next 10 years, it announced on Saturday.

This happened a day after China became the third country to discover a new lunar mineral it called Changesite-(Y).

China’s Chang’e 5 mission returned samples from the moon in 2020, and scientists described it as a “phosphate mineral in columnar crystals” found in lunar rock particles. The mineral contains helium-3, which may become a source of energy in the future.

The discovery could put pressure on the US to step up its efforts after its Artemis I lunar mission was delayed a second time.

Mining on the moon could be the next source of tension between the countries as NASA also explores the south pole of the moon, where China plans to build a research station with Russia.

China has stepped up its space exploration efforts lately, building a space station, launching a series of lunar sample collection missions and sending the Zhurong rover to Mars earlier this year to compete with NASA.

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