China making plans for future space exploration: official
BEIJING - China is making plans for the future development of its space program, including exploring asteroids and the Jovian system, collecting samples from Mars and exploring the polar region of the moon, said an official from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Saturday.
Xu Hongliang, a spokesperson of the CNSA, said at a press conference held in Beijing that about the year 2025 China plans to launch a probe to collect samples from a near-Earth asteroid and explore a comet in one mission.
China plans to launch a Mars sample-return mission and a Jovian system exploration mission sometime about 2030, Xu said.
In addition, China plans to launch the Chang'e-6 and Chang'e-7 lunar probes in the coming five years to explore the environment and resources and collect samples from the polar region of the moon, Xu said.
By the end of 2022, China will have completed the construction of its space station, in which astronauts can stay for prolonged periods to carry out scientific experiments, Xu said.
"We should coordinate space science, space technology and space applications, in accordance with the principle of being technically realizable, financially affordable and scientifically contributive," said Xu.
The development of heavy-lift launch vehicles, reusable space transportation systems and satellite internet will also be the focus of future development plans, according to Xu.
The CNSA released new images taken by the country's first Mars rover Zhurong on Friday, signifying the complete success of China's first Mars exploration mission.
Xu said that China has seen new breakthroughs in the country's Tianwen-1 mission. The probe has, for the first time, successfully completed the interplanetary flight, soft-landing and roving on an extraterrestrial planet.
The completion of the orbiting, landing and roving on the red planet in one mission indicates that the country has come to the forefront of the world in Mars exploration, Xu said.
He also noted that this is the first time that the country has carried out monitoring and communication activities over a distance of 400 million km and obtained first-hand scientific data on Mars.