China in ambitious plan to put man on Mars by 2033 – and then build space base
China has outlined plans for a manned mission to Mars by 2033 and aims to build a base there ahead of the Americans.
Beijing's proposed Mars mission will see regular follow-up flights as part of a long-term plan to build a permanently inhabited base on the Red Planet and extract its resources.
The plan which will intensify a race with the US to land people on Mars, was disclosed in detail for the first time after China landed a robotic rover on Mars in May in its first mission to the planet.
Crewed launches to Mars are planned for 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041 and beyond, the head of China's main rocket maker, Wang Xiaojun, told a space exploration conference.
Wang, the head of the state-run China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, shared a "roadmap of human Mars exploration" during a virtual lecture at the Global Space Exploration Conference held in Russia.
The conference was organized by Russia's Roscosmos space agency and the International Astronautical Federation to mark the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight, reports Reuters.
Wang's three-step plan for human Mars exploration includes robotic exploration, initial human exploration and finally "routine human explorations."
As part of the plan, Wang unveiled that China hopes to build a base on Mars and the development of a "large-scale Earth to Mars transportation fleet."
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"We are willing to join hands with our counterparts and partners all over the world, to realize the dream of mankind going to deep space and walking on Mars," he said.
Before the crewed missions begin, China will send robots to Mars to study possible sites for the base and to build systems to extract resources there, the official China Space News reported on Wednesday.
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For human inhabitation on Mars, crews would have to be able to use the planet's resources, such as extracting any water beneath its surface, generating oxygen on-site and producing electricity.
China must also develop technology to fly astronauts back to Earth.
An uncrewed round-trip mission to acquire soil samples from the planet is expected by the end of 2030.
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China's Mars plan envisages fleets of spacecraft shuttling between Earth and Mars and major development of its resources, Wang said.
To shorten the travel time, spacecraft would have to tap energy released from nuclear reactions in the form of heat and electricity, in addition to traditional chemical propellants, Wang said.
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China would have to accomplish round trips with a total flight time of "a few hundred days", he said.
Last week, China sent three astronauts to an unfinished space station in its first crewed mission since 2016, expanding its growing near-Earth presence and challenging U.S. leadership in orbital space
China is also planning to set up a base in the south pole of the Moon and is deploying robotic expeditions to asteroids and Jupiter around 2030.
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