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China Space Program White Paper Outlines Lunar & Mars Missions

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 29, 2016
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china_flagA white paper outlining China’s space policy for the next five years calls for a sample return mission to the moon, a landing on the far side of Earth’s closest neighbor, and the launch of an orbiter and lander to Mars by 2020.

China will also begin constructing a permanent space station and research and development work on a heavy-lift launcher, reusable boosters and satellite servicing systems.

The nation also wants to expand international cooperation in areas that include remote sensing, space applications, lunar and planetary exploration, and human spaceflight.

“In the next five years China will, with a more active and open attitude, conduct extensive international exchanges and cooperation concerning space,” the white paper states.

Because Chinese officials have been much more open about the nation’s space plans in recent years, the document does not contain much that’s new. It does pr0vide a comprehensive overview of the country’s plans for the next five years.

Excerpts from key sections of the report follow.

Human spaceflight

  • Launch Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft to dock with Tiangong-2 space station
  • Research and master key technologies for cargo resupply
  • Complete research and development work on space station modules
  • Begin to assemble and operate a space station
  • Acquire key technologies and conduct experiments to improved human spaceflight capacity
  • Lay foundation for exploring and developing cislunar space.

Deep Space Exploration

  • Launch Chang’ e-5 lunar sample return by the end of 2017
  • Launch the Chang’e-4 lunar probe around 2018 to achieve first soft landing on the far side of the moon
  • Chang’e-4 will conduct in situ and roving detection and relay communications at earth-moon L2 point
  • Launch China’s first Mars probe by 2020 to carry out orbiting and roving exploration
  • Conduct further studies and key technological research into the bringing back of soil samples from Mars, asteroid exploration, exploration of the Jupiter system and planetary fly-by exploration

Space Transportation

  • Develop, launch and upgrade medium-lift launch vehicles which are non-toxic and pollution-free
  • Research key technologies and develop plans heavy-lift launch vehicles, with launch of the program to follow
  • Research low-cost launch vehicles, new upper stages and reusable space transportation systems

Space Technology

  • Conduct experiments on key technologies for new electric propulsion, laser communications and common platforms of new-generation communications satellites.
  • Build in-orbit servicing and maintenance systems for spacecraft and
  • Perform in-orbit experiments on new theories, technologies and products

Space Science

  • Seek evidence of the existence of dark matter by using dark matter particle exploration satellites to detect high-energy electrons and high-energy gamma rays
  • Launch a hard X-ray modulation telescope to study the matter dynamics and high-energy radiation processes in the strong gravitational field of compact celestial bodies and black holes
  • Conduct research into large-scale structure and interaction models of solar wind and the magnetosphere, and response to magnetospheric substorm change process
  • Utilize the Shijian-10 recoverable satellite, Chang’e probes, Shenzhou spacecraft, Tiangong-2 space laboratory and Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft perform scientific experiments and research in biology, life sciences, medicine and materials in the space environment
  • Use quantum experiment satellites to conduct experiments and research in the fields of quantum key transmission, quantum entanglement distribution, and quantum teleportation
  • Carry out basic research into sun-earth space environment, space climate, and solar activity and its impact on space climate, and implement space-related interdisciplinary research
  • Develop comprehensive techniques for analyzing data from space observations on the properties of X-rays, the energy spectrum and spatial distribution of high-energy electrons and high-energy gamma rays, space physics, extraterrestrial celestial bodies, and the earth’s electromagnetic field and ionosphere

Space Environment

  • Improve the standardization system for space debris, near-earth objects and space climate
  • Enhance the space debris basic database and data-sharing model, and advance the development of space debris monitoring facilities, the early warning and emergency response platform and the online service system
  • Improve the space environment monitoring system and to build a disaster early warning and prediction platform to raise our preventative capability

3 responses to “China Space Program White Paper Outlines Lunar & Mars Missions”

  1. Vladislaw says:

    Quite the ‘to do’ list. I wonder how the funding for this looks?

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