A long March-7 Y3 vessel rocket carrying the Tianzhou 2 cargo spacecraft explodes from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on May 29, 2021 in Wenchang, Hainan Province, China.
Yuan Chen | VCG | Getty Images
China plans to lay the foundations for high space performance, including exploration of the planet Jupiter and a manned mission to the moon.
The movement is heating up yet another technological battle front between the United States and China, with the world’s second largest economy positioning itself to become a superpower in space in the coming years.
Over the last few years, China has had some notable successes in space:
With these performances under the belt, Beijing wants to increase the game. The Government – China’s highest executive body – released a White Paper last week outlining the latest successes and goals for the period between 2021 and 2025 as part of the country’s five-year development plan.
Here are some key points that Beijing wants to implement:
- Upgrade the spacecraft it uses and do more research on recyclable rockets.
- Develop new satellites for functions such as carbon monitoring in the atmosphere and also conduct research for the next generation of Beidou.
- Launch its own space telescope called Xuntian and complete its own space station.
- Focus on building new technologies such as autonomous control of a spacecraft and how to clean space debris, which has become a huge problem. Space debris or space debris can be nuts, bolts, parts of satellites or decommissioned rockets that float around and can collide with other objects.
The Moon, Mars and beyond
China said it will continue research and planning of a manned lunar landing and develop new spacecraft for such missions. The plan also said China wants to work with other countries to build a research station on the moon.
But Beijing looks beyond the surface of the moon. Scientists want to conduct research into how to get samples from Mars and study them. China also wants to lay the groundwork for the exploration of Jupiter. China said last year that it plans to send a manned mission to Mars in 2033 and build a base there.
Promoting satellite technology can not only help make companies on Earth more digital, it also has economic benefits, according to the State Council. It said this could also encourage new businesses to form, including space tourism and biomedicine.
China said it will also continue research into “space physics”, which includes the search for other habitable planets.
Beijing also plans to use its space station as well as its Mars and Moon probes to conduct experiments and research in biology, life, medicine and materials.
China and the United States are locked in a technological battle for dominance in everything from artificial intelligence to semiconductors, where their political disagreements are already spreading into space.
One example is a disagreement last year between the two nations over the so-called Artemis agreements, an agreement led by NASA that seeks to create rules around responsible and fair space exploration. China did not sign up, while other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom did.
Without mentioning the Artemis agreements in the five-year plan, China said it would work with other nations in areas from global governance to manned spaceflight.
“Under the auspices of the United Nations, China will actively participate in formulating international rules on outer space and will work with other countries to address the challenges of ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities,” the White Paper said.
China also said it would “engage in dialogue with Russia, the United States and other countries” on global space management.