Space.com has an article up about Chinese plans for a lunar rock receiving lab, as well as general updates on the Chinese program.
Presenting at the 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), Chinese experts noted plans for their processing center, which sounds roughly equivalent to NASA’s famed Lunar Receiving Laboratory. China currently plans to have the Chang’e-3 lander down in 2013, with the Chang’e-4 rock hauler touching down in 2017 and the Chang’e-2 luanr orbiter launching later this year.
There’s an almost aside quote towards the end of the article that caught my attention:
“”In addition they have started participating in discussions for the International Lunar Network (ILN) mission…” – Ray Arvidson, Washington University Professor
Details on that ILN have been slim so far, but to see a current mention after NASA’s cancellation of Constellation is interesting. A NASA site says about the project:
“NASA will undertake landed lunar missions and is architecting a conceptual “global lunar network” as a backbone of its envisioned robotic surface activities. This concept, called the International Lunar Net-work (ILN), aims to provide an organizing theme for all landed science missions in the 2010s by involving each landed station as a node in a geophysical network.” -NASA Science Mission Site, ILN
Clearly, with NASA taking a step back, someone else would likely step in to ‘architect’ the continuation of the network…and from that quote about the recent Chinese “discussions” about it, it sounds like someone is. Guess international lunar development will roll on, with or without NASA, at just the same pace :)