Harianjogja.com, JAKARTA – China plans to send the first humans to Mars in 2033.
According to a preliminary report from the Global Times, the Chinese rocket manufacturer revealed a roadmap for an upcoming crewed mission to Mars.
The head of the state-owned China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) Wang Xiaojun announced the plan in a speech called “The Space Transportation System of Human Mars Exploration”, taking place at the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX 2021), according to the Global Times report.
Launching Interesting Engineering, Tuesday (29/6/2021) in a successful review of China’s Tianwen-1 probe, the country’s first interplanetary mission to orbit, land and see rover land on the Red Planet — in one comprehensive mission — Wang stated a three-step plan his people to put humans on Mars.
The main phase, also called the technology preparation phase, will reportedly involve robots designed to return Martian samples, and exploring base sites for future human installations on Mars.
After that, the second stage would send humans there, who would establish a permanent base. Upon completion, phase three will see a large-scale Earth-to-Mars cargo fleet set off to seed and accelerate development projects on the Red Planet.
The schedule for these and additional phases is 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041, 2043, and more, according to the academy.
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China is currently considering nuclear-powered vehicles for human exploration missions to Mars, in addition to the “Sky Ladder” system, which is currently being investigated as a means to reduce the scale or cost of future probe missions and transportation to the Red Planet.
“We’re not sure what the academy means by “Sky Ladder”, but, by guessing: it could be a space elevator. While not a new idea, the idea of building a vertical transport linking the planet’s surface to orbital altitude would be extremely difficult, on Mars. or Earth, to do. But the technological skills necessary for such a grandiose engineering feat may not yet exist.”
There is an illustration of “Sky Ladder” in a Xinhua Global Service report, which depicts a manned space capsule or cargo moving up a carbon nanotube “ladder” to the space station, where it is launched once again, to explore deep space.
But the capsule could also dock with a second lunar space station, and then be carried down another “stairway” to the lunar surface. This comes after China and Russia jointly announced plans to build a lunar base, but China has also revealed plans to explore distant asteroids, and even the Jovian system, according to the report.
The impending expansion into space before the U.S. or any other power isn’t all that surprising. But this doesn’t mean China will be the first to place humans on Mars, or the moon, or anywhere else.