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Chinese Scientists Lobby for Mission to Mars

Nov. 18, 2014 (EIRNS)—Chinese space planners and leading program officials are publicly lobbying the Chinese government for a mission to Mars, to launch as early as the 2018 window of opportunity. In a spirit of friendly competition, if not one-upsmanship, recalling without naming India’s highly-successful Mars Orbiter Mission, Peng Tao, of the China Academy of Space Technology told China Daily that the Chinese Mars mission would include an orbiter, lander, and rover.

"By contrast, other nations will need multiple missions to achieve those three steps." (This would be very complex, and a very high-risk mission for a first foray to Mars). Although officials point out that many of the capabilities needed for a Mars mission were already demonstrated in China’s lunar program, landing tens of millions miles distant, on a planet with an atmosphere, has had a very small success rate, accomplished so far only by the U.S.

A prototype Mars rover has been on display this week, at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. Li Zhongbao, deputy president of the China Academy of Space Technology, said that the display of a rover model is indicative of their confidence that there will be a Mars mission within a short time. The scientists say that although the government has not announced an official plan for a Mars mission, they "have started the preliminary research," and are convinced a Chinese rover will soon appear on Mars.