China wants to land on Mars by 2021
China has set its sights firmly on Mars and is aiming to launch a mission to the red planet by 2020, a top official has revealed.
Long-regarded as a secretive branch of the country’s vast military, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has been considered something of a lone wolf in the increasingly cooperative space race.
But the chief designer of lunar and Mars missions for the CNSA has opened up about the agency’s plans for planetary exploration and future collaboration in a rare interview.
In an interview with the BBC, Wu Weiren said the agency’s short-term goal is to orbit and land on the moon as well as bring back lunar samples.
However, the agency’s long-term goal is to explore and settle on the lunar surface, with manned missions staying longer on the surface and even establishing a research base.
The secretive agency has changed tack in recent years, releasing more data and images to the world, and publicising its successes.
Earlier this year a full set of images from the agency’s lunar lander and rover – Chang’e 3 and Yutu or ‘Jade Rabbit’ – were made publicly available, providing some of the most detailed images of the lunar surface ever to have been released.
Previously, the agency has stated the importance of helium-3 to the future of its space programme, a radioactive isotope which may be abundant on the far side of the moon.
Mr Wu told the BBC: ‘It’s quite challenging to land there, but according to research, there might be water or ice because of the lack of sunlight.’
But the biggest surprise was the openness surrounding military-led agency’s plans to visit Mars. According to the mission chief, the CNSA plans to set a course for the red planet in 2020.
However, he admitted that the agency could have started its Mars mission earlier, instead of flagging behind the US, European and Indian agencies.
Alluding to the stringent nature of national decision-making in China, he said ‘finally the country has given its approval.’
‘We will orbit Mars, land and deploy a rover – all in one mission,’ Mr Wu confidently told the BBC.
Current and future planned missions are showing there are clear benefits to be gained from collaborative efforts in space exploration.
But while China may be seeking cooperative ventures, Nasa will not work with the CNSA due to its military status.
i bet they do..but we all want a lot of things we cant have..
“Previously, the agency has stated the importance of helium-3 to the future of its space programme, a radioactive isotope which may be abundant on the far side of the moon. Mr Wu told the BBC: ‘It’s quite challenging to land there, but according to research, there might be water or ice because of the lack of sunlight.'”
the moon as well..helium-3..the target..