China aims to put the first human on Mars in 2033, according to a new presentation by Wang Xiaojun, head of China’s biggest rocket maker.
Wang’s plans were described in a report by the Chinese state media, Global Times, and include a Martian base, although nothing is guaranteed when making a plan for a decade-long time horizon.
Wang, head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, made the announcement about China’s ambitious plans for Mars during a recent talk at the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX 2021).
China, which has successfully landed a rover on Mars, plans to send robots, or “androids” as the Global Time report calls them, before any human beings are sent to the red planet.
In the Global Time report, it reads that nuclear propellant is considered to be the main option for manned exploration missions to Mars, according to the head of the academy.
Global Time says further: “In addition, a ‘Sky Ladder’ system, according to Wang, is under study as a starting point for such a space voyage, in an attempt to scale down the probe and transport missions to Mars.” However, the academy did not give details about the Sky Ladder system.
Private companies in the US have mentioned plans to put a human on Mars, but no one has yet come up with a serious plan to effectively make that happen.
As Reuters pointed out, China launched its first manned mission last week, sending three astronauts (or hángtiānyuán, literally sky navigators, as they are known in China) to the country’s unfinished space station.
Can China really become the first country to put a human on Mars? It most likely depends on how the country’s economy fares during the 2020s. Space programs require a lot of money, and there’s not much reason to go to Mars outside of national pride.
The First Cold War took humans to the Moon. But the New Cold War may well take them to Mars.