China Plans To ‘Rove’ On Mars By 2020

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The Martian with Matt Damon

China is working on a mission to land a rover on Mars by 2020 aiming to become a global aerospace power by 2030.

China’s National Space Administration envisages a joint China-US cooperation on a Mars rescue mission, as depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster “The Martian,” where the agency saved both NASA and Matt Damon from an awful situation.

Shanghai Daily reports:

Announced in January, the Mars voyage will attempt to recreate the success of the United States’ Viking 1 mission that landed a rover on the Red Planet four decades ago.

“What we would like to do is orbit Mars, make a landing, and rove around for reconnaissance in one mission, which is quite a challenge,” China National Space Administration head Xu Dazhe told a news conference.

“This is a project that has attracted much attention from both the science and space fields,” he said.

China will also explore civilian uses of space technology in areas such as navigation, remote sensing and communications, and seek international collaborations, he said.

Since conducting its first manned mission on a Chinese-built Shenzhou spacecraft in 2003, China has launched an experimental space station called the Tiangong 1, staged a spacewalk and landed its Yutu rover on the moon.

This year, it plans to launch components for a larger, permanent Tiangong 2 space station sometime after the beginning of June, as well as the Shenzhou 11 spaceship with two astronauts on board who are scheduled to dock with the station and live in it for several days. Administrators suggest a manned landing on the moon might also be in the program’s future.

A source of national pride, China’s space program plans a total of 20 space missions this year at a time when the United States and other countries’ space programs are seeking new roles.

China is also developing the Long March 5 heavier-lift rocket to launch the Tiangong 2 and other big payloads.

The country aims to become a true aerospace power by 2030, Xu said.

However, while it has made great headway, “the United States and Russia are ahead of us, and Europe also has advanced technology,” he said.

China will complete aerospace projects currently under way by about 2020, including manned space programs, lunar probes, the Beidou Navigation Satellite System and Gaofen observation satellite program, he said, adding that the construction of a national civilian space infrastructure will be completed about 2025.

The Hollywood blockbuster “The Martian” is “proof” that Americans want to see the US and China cooperate in space, he said, while lamenting Washington’s ban on collaboration between the two countries.

“When I saw the US film ‘The Martian,’ which envisages China-US cooperation on a Mars rescue mission under emergency circumstances, it shows that our US counterparts very much hope to cooperate with us,” he said.

“However, it’s very regrettable that, for reasons everyone is aware of, there are currently some impediments to cooperation.”

Advancing China’s space program is a priority for China, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.

China’s space program will continue to serve national security and economic interests, in a “military-civil” development strategy, Xu said, adding that such efforts will be used in support of “world peace.”

“I believe that on this matter, China is more and more open, and I hope our American friends take note,” he said.

Despite Washington’s ban on cooperation, the two governments held their first civil space talks last September to discuss each other’s plans and policies.

China said this week it plans to launch a “core module” for its first space station about 2018 as part of a plan to have a permanent manned space station in service by about 2022.

5 years, 150 rockets

China will launch about 150 of its Long March carrier rockets over the next five years, a senior space official said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s Space Day celebrations to mark the launch of the country’s first satellite 46 years ago.

“In the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), we will see about 30 launches (of the Long March series) each year,” said Chen Xuechuan, assistant president of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.mars