China wants to become the first nation in history to successfully transport rock samples from the red planet back to Earth. The SpaceNews server pointed this out.
The available information suggests that the Tiananmen-3 mission could begin at the end of 2028, with the samples in question arriving on Earth by July 2031 at the latest.
In that case, China would be two years ahead of NASA and ESA, whose Earth Return Orbiter, according to the latest revisions, will return sometime in 2033 – assuming that the designated space agencies eventually send it out.
Decent chance of victory
Since Tiananmen-3 is less ambitious than the aforementioned joint NASA-ESA mission, it is quite possible that the former Middle Kingdom will actually triumph in this imaginary race.
Rich experience also plays in her favor – last year the Zhurong rover landed on Mars and in the same year it acquired lunar rocks.
NASA, on the other hand, is currently busy with the Artemis project, which aims to get people back to the moon. It is possible to speculate about how great a priority Mars actually has for her.
Cover photo: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, CC BY-NC 2.0
Artemis Live: The Return of Man to the Moon
Artemis is NASA’s space program designed to restore human flights to the moon. A Gateway station will be built in the Moon’s orbit. The crew to the station will be transported by the Orion spacecraft, launched by the SLS rocket. Astronauts will be transported to the surface of the Moon by the HLS module, which will be at least the Starship from SpaceX on the first landing.
- Artemis 1: An unmanned flight in which the ship Orion will be launched into orbit around the Moon and then back to Earth. Deadline: end of 2021
- Artemis 2: Piloted orbit of the Moon. Deadline: year 2023
- Artemis 3: Man landing on the moon. Deadline: at the earliest in 2024
- CLPS: Transportation of scientific experiments to the surface of the Moon in support of the Artemis program. Deadline: from 2021