With a good deal of the space-race news centering on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin trip and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s grand plans for trips to Mars, China is putting together some ambitious strategies, too.
A senior Chinese space industry official said Wednesday the country is seeking to send its space travelers to Mars and bring them back safely – as well as perhaps planting the flag for a longer-term stay on Mars.
Wang Xiaojing, who spoke at the Global Space Exploration (GLEX) conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, said that China is narrowing the best plans for missions to Mars.
China, which already has landed its rover Zhurong on Mars, has another trip on the books planned in 2029 and continues to expand its presence in space.
Three Chinese astronauts boarded the country’s space station in orbit on Thursday, increasing the visibility of China’s commitment beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
As for Mars exploration, Wang referenced an expanded set of plans for his country, up to and including the construction of a Mars base.
Among the specifics are an Earth-to-Mars fleet, large-scale Martian development and embracing the use of available resources on the Red Planet.
Wang revealed that comprehensive research on mission architecture has been completed, including orbit options and various propulsion systems.
According to space.com: “The plan presented by Wang is both ambitious but also at a very early stage. … The plan does not consider the challenges of sending humans on long journeys through deep space, including radiation and the effects of microgravity. …
“No timeline for embarking on crewed Mars missions was mentioned. China is currently aiming for crewed missions to the moon in the 2030s, so crewed Mars missions will be much further off.”