Another space story.
The I newspaper yesterday reported that China is aiming to send probes to the far side of the Moon and Mars, and with an unstated further aim of landing a man on the Moon. The article by Louise Watt, entitled Beijing Joins Space Race with Plans to Explore Moon and Mars ran
China has laid out plans to become the first country to soft land a probe on the far side of the Moon, by around 2018, and launch its first Mars probe by 2020.
“To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build china into a space power is a dream we pursue unremittingly,” read a White Paper released yesterday listing the country’s space strategy for the next five years.
It says China aims to use space for peaceful purposes and to guarantee national security, and to carry out cutting-edge scientific research.
The document points to the growing ambitions of China’s already rapidly advancing space programme. China places great emphasis on the development of its space industry, seen as a symbol of national prestige that will raise the country’s standing in the world. Although the White Paper does not mention it, China’s eventual goal is to land an astronaut on the Moon.
While Russia and the United States have more experience in manned space travel, China’s military-backed programme has made steady progress in a comparatively short time.
The White Paper reiterated China’s plans to launch its first Mars probe by 2020, saying that it would explore and bring back samples from the Red Planet, explore the Jupiter system and “conduct research into major scientific questions such as the origin and evolution of the solar system, and search for extra-terrestrial life.”
There is also an inset panel providing a little snippet of further information.
Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the Moon in 2013 – the first time humans soft landed anything on the Moon since the 1970s. (p,. 22).
I say good luck to them. The Apollo moon lands are now nearly 50 years in the past, and I really believe that it’s high time we sent people back out into space to explore the planets. And some western space scientists and writers have been predicting for well over a decade now that China might just be the nation to do it. The quantum physicist and SF writer, Stephen Baxter, wrote a piece in Focus magazine speculating that the Chinese may be the first nation to send a person to Mars in the next decade or so, and wrote a fictional scenario in which the first person to step out onto the Martian surface is a female taikonaut from the Middle Kingdom. The SF author, Paul McAuley, wrote a novel, Red Dust, set on a future, Chinese dominated Mars with an ecosystem created through genetic engineering, to tailor creatures specially adapted for conditions on the Red Planet. nd a decade or so before then, 2000 AD in its future war strip, The V.C.s, also portrayed a Mars settled by the Chinese.
I wish the Chinese every success in their peaceful exploration of the Solar System, and hope that this will encourage the other developed nations to expand their space programmes. The Chinese space programme will be a challenge to the American space programme, but the potential benefits of space travel, exploration and colonisation are far too important to be monopolised by any one nation.
Tags: 'I' Newspaper, 'Red Dust', 'The V.C.s', 2000 A.D., Focus, genetic engineering, Jupiter, Louise Watt, Manned Missions, Mars, Military, Paul McAuley, Probes, Quantum Physics, Science Fiction, Stephen Baxter, the Moon