China plans to send the first humans on Mars and build a base on the Red Planet by 2033.
Wang Xiaojun, the head of China’s Academy of Launch Facilities Technology, announced plans for sending a crew to Mars by 2033. During a recent presentation, Wang revealed that the country also intends to construct a base on the Red Planet and extract valuable resources.
As Daily Mail reports, the announcement will intensify a space race between China and the United States, as NASA is also working towards sending people on Mars in the 2030s.
According to Wang, there would be three stages for colonizing the Red Planet. First, robots will be sent to Mars to detect possible sites for the futuristic base and build systems to obtain resources. After that, humans will travel to the planet to construct the base.
Finally, China plans to pave the way for fleets of spacecraft commuting between Earth and Mars.
The very first mission is set to launch in 2033. Then, the team would spread out its missions every two years, guided by the exact time the two planets align.
The ambitious plans are being revealed shortly after the East Asian country successfully landed its Zhurong rover on Mars. Back in December, they have also returned the Chang’e-5 capsule filled with valuable rocks and soil from the moon.
China now plans on using nuclear propellant in its spacecraft, which uses energy released from nuclear reactions in the form of heat and electricity.
Wang commented that they would have to accomplish round trips with a total flight time of “a few hundred days.”
Meanwhile, teamed up with Russia, China is also working on setting up a base on the moon. Authorities from both countries signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the project in March to cement the partnership.