Under a long-term plan to create a permanently populated colony on Mars and extract its resources, China plans to send its first crewed trip to Mars in 2033, with regular follow-up flights.
After China landed a robotic rover on Mars in mid-May as part of its first trip to the planet, the country revealed the ambitious plan in detail for the first time. It would intensify a competition with the US to deploy humans on Mars.
China to Send Crew Missions by 2033 and Beyond
Wang Xiaojun, the head of China's largest rocket manufacturer, said at a recent space exploration conference in Russia via Global Times that crewed missions to Mars are planned for 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041, and beyond.
China will send robots to Mars before crewed missions begin to examine potential bases and construct methods to extract resources there, according to the official China Space News, quoting Wang, the head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
Crews would need to be able to utilize the planet's resources, such as retrieving any water beneath the surface, manufacturing oxygen on-site, and producing energy to live on Mars.
China will also need to build technologies to return astronauts to Earth.
China to Collect Soil Samples from Mars
News18 said by the end of 2030, an uncrewed round-trip mission to collect soil samples from the planet is expected.
NASA, the United States' space agency, has been working on technology to send a crew to Mars and return by the 2030s.
According to Wang, China's Mars plan calls for fleets of spacecraft to shuttle between Earth and Mars, as well as massive resource exploitation.
"In addition to typical chemical propellants, spacecraft would have to tap energy emitted by nuclear processes in the form of heat and power to reduce journey time", Wang said.
He said per Daily Mail that China would have to complete round flights with a total flying length of "a few hundred days".
Around 2030, China plans to establish a base at the Moon's south pole and send robotic expeditions to asteroids and Jupiter.
China launched three astronauts to an unfinished space station last week, marking the country's first crewed trip since 2016, Reuters said. It shaped up its increasing near-Earth presence and threatening the United States' dominance in orbital space.
Can China Actually Become the First Country to Put a Human on Mars?
Private companies in the United States have mentioned plans to land a human on Mars, but no one has yet come forward with a serious plan to do so. Elon Musk, the billionaire, has famously stated that he wants to die on Mars, Gizmodo said. But his intention appears to be that he will die of old age on the planet.
Suppose the original space programs of the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s are any indication, many people will have to die before humans from any nation see themselves on Mars.
A lot will likely hinge on how the country's economy does in the 2020s. Space programs are expensive, and there is little reason to go to Mars other than national pride. That is why people have yet to see a moon base, Paleofuture said.
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