red planet

Alan Boyle writes: Chinese space officials have come up with a plan that would send an orbiter toward Mars on a Chinese rocket as early as 2013, the Xinhua news agency reports. Such a mission would use technologies that were developed for the Chang’e 1 lunar orbiter and its recently launched follow-up mission, Chang’e 2.

The orbiter mission also would follow up on China’s joint effort with Russia to send probes toward Mars and one of its moons, Phobos. Launch of the Phobos-Grunt mission is scheduled for a year from now. China’s Yinghuo 1 (“Firefly”) orbiter would hitch a ride on a Russian-built spacecraft that’s designed to put a lander on Phobos and return a soil sample to Earth.

All this activity signals that Beijing will be taking its status as a space power seriously in the years ahead. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has just returned from a controversial visit to China, and today he said in a written statement that the visit “increased mutual understanding on the issue of human spaceflight and space exploration, which can form the basis for further dialogue and cooperation in a manner that is consistent with the national interests of both of our countries.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: