China plans to launch a Mars sample-return mission around 2030



Photo of the Martian landscape released on June 11, 2021. / China National Space Administration

China plans to launch a Mars sample-return mission around 2030, said Xu Hongliang, spokesperson of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), on Saturday at a press conference. Xu also declared the country's first Mars mission, Tianwen-1, a "complete success."

"In the history of aerospace development, we've made a mark with this 'three-in-one' mission of orbiting, landing and roving in one go. This means China has become a first-tier country in terms of interplanetary exploration," he said.

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The country also plans to launch a probe to collect samples from a near-Earth asteroid and explore a comet in one mission around 2025 and explore the more faraway Jovian system after 2030, according to Xu.

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 moon's polar region, Xu said.

By the end of 2022, China will complete the construction of its space station, in which astronauts can stay for prolonged periods to carry out scientific experiments.

"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.

According to Xu, the development of heavy-lift launch vehicles, reusable space transportation systems, and satellite internet will also be the focus of China's future space development plans.

The CNSA also said that partnerships and cooperation with countries would continue in the future, both in terms of Mars exploration and other deep forays into space.

(CGTN's Sun Ye contributed to the report.)

(With input from Xinhua)