China plans its first manned mission to Mars in 2033

BEIJING (Reuters) – China plans to send its first manned mission to Mars in 2033, followed by scheduled flights, in a plan to settle on the Red Planet and extract resources from it.

This project, which will intensify the race for the colonization of Mars with the United States, has been unveiled in detail for the first time since a Chinese robot landed on the Red Planet in mid-May.

Crewed launches are scheduled for 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041 and beyond, Wang Xiaojun, director of the Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), said at a recent space exploration conference. in Russia by videoconference.

China intends to send robots first to study sites likely to receive a permanently manned base and resource extraction systems, the official China Space News reported on Wednesday, citing Wang Xiaojun.

For humans to inhabit Mars, crews must be able to tap local resources by extracting water from beneath the planet’s surface and producing oxygen and electricity there. China must also develop technology to bring astronauts back to Earth.

An unmanned round-trip mission to collect soil samples is scheduled for the end of 2030.

The Chinese plan for Mars also contemplates the creation of a fleet of spacecraft to shuttle between Earth and Mars, a round trip to last “a few hundred days” of flight, according to Wang Xiaojun.

China is also considering setting up a base at the Moon’s south pole and launching robotic expeditions to asteroids and Jupiter around 2030.

For its part, the American space agency, NASA, has developed a technology that will lead to a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

(Report Ryan Woo and Liangping Gao, French version Kate Entringer, edited by Blandine Hénault)