CHINA has revealed its intention to dominate the aerospace industry, from the Moon to Mars.
Three China-backed astronauts recently embarked on a six-month mission to work on the country’s new space station.
Tiangong Space Station
Dubbed Tiangong, the space station is built in low Earth orbit, between 210 and 280 miles above the surface.
China launched the first Tiangong module last year and plans to add more by the end of this year.
The nation has ambitions for Tiagnong to replace the International Space Station (ISS) after it retires in a few years.
Due to US law, the ISS is prohibited from hosting Chinese-supported astronauts or sharing data with China.
The construction of Tiangong is the country’s latest move to position itself as a leading aerospace powerhouse.
Xuntian Space Telescope
Also on China’s agenda is the launch of its own space telescope, called Xuntian, or China Space Station Telescope (CSST).
CSST is expected to have a primary mirror 6.6 feet in diameter, as well as a field of view 300 times larger than NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Such a wide field of view would allow the telescope to observe up to 40% of the sky for ten years.
If all goes as planned, the telescope will orbit the Earth with the Chinese space station and may periodically dock.
The CSST should be launched in 2024.
Chinese Missions to the Moon and Beyond
Other notable space missions for China include exploring Jupiter, building a research station on the Moon and returning samples from Mars.
Retrieving samples from Mars, a feat that NASA and ESA hope to achieve, seems to be one of the most important goals for China.
The plan was recently described by Wu Weiren, a senior scientist at China’s National Space Administration.
According to Weiren, China would land a capsule on the Red Planet which would collect the samples.
The capsule would be equipped with an ascent vehicle (or small rocket) that would transport the samples to an orbiter.
The orbiter would then return the collection to Earth.
“The spacecraft for a sample return mission to the Red Planet will be much heavier than lunar probes because it will carry more fuel to fly a very long distance. Therefore, we need to build a powerful carrier rocket to transport the spaceship. Weiren said.
China’s other big aviation ambitions include sending a manned mission to the moon and building a lunar base for further exploration.
China’s leading rocket maker, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, has hinted that its engineers are building a super-heavy rocket called Long March 9.
Experts believe that this rocket would be used for possible manned missions to the Moon, as well as other deep space missions in the future.
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