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China Unveils Ambitious Plans to Explore the Universe
   2016-04-25 06:14:20    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

China has released details of a series of ambitious plans for space exploration in the coming years.

They include the country's Mars mission probe set to be launched around 2020, as well as the completion of China's space station in 2022.

CRI's Xie Cheng has been looking at these major aeronautics and space missions in more detail.


The plan was released to coincide with China's first "Space Day" which was celebrated on Sunday.

According to the ambitious plan, the Mars mission probe is expected to orbit the red planet, land and deploy a rover all in one mission, round about the year 2021.

The spacecraft for the mission will be put into space by the new-generation Long March-5 heavy-lift rocket, and is being developed by the China Academy of Space Technology.

Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of the first Mars exploration, explained its significance for understanding the universe's evolution, as well as structure of matter and the origin of life.

"Such a big plan to achieve orbiting, landing and the deployment of a rover in one mission will make history. Only by completing this Mars probe mission can China say it has embarked on the exploration of deep space in the true sense."

However, Zhang also stressed the difficulties that would be faced in achieving this goal.

"A total of 43 Mars missions have been launched throughout the world so far. The most recent took place on March 14. It is a joint collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency. It's just been launched and it is still on its way to Mars. There have only been 22 successful launches. So the rate of success to failure is about 50-50."

The greatest challenge lies in the landing process, since the weather on the red planet is hard to predict, and its environment is hard for researchers to imitate on Earth.

Experts also explained that since the favorable alignment of Earth and Mars occurs for only few weeks every 26 months, 2020 is a crucial launch window for the probe.

Meanwhile, China is also planning to finish building its space station by 2022.

The country will launch its second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 as well as the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft to rendezvous and dock with it later this year.

Xu Dazhe, director of Chinese National Space Administration, explained some of the goals they want to achieve.

"China will complete its civil space infrastructure -- navigation, telecommunication and remote sensing systems -- to serve different sectors, benefit the mankind and contribute to the improvement of people's livelihoods."

The space station will also cater for international projects and foreign astronauts in a bid to develop further space cooperation with the rest of the world.

The first space lab Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 and three dockings with the module were conducted in the following years.

The lab, which orbited for 4 and half years, has fulfilled its mission and was retired in March.

It will descend gradually in the coming months until it burns up in the atmosphere.

The U.S.-dominated International Space Station is scheduled to end its life in 2024, when China's space station may for a time become the only operational facility in space.

For CRI, I'm Xie Cheng.

Related: China Aiming for Reusable Manned Spacecraft



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