- China is turning up the heat on its space race with the US.
- The head of the country’s top rocket manufacturing company said China will send a crew to Mars by 2033.
- Also in the works is a “sky ladder” that can shoot humans and cargo into space in a capsule.
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The space race between the US and China is heating up, and the Chinese are bringing something new to the table – a “sky ladder.”
According to Chinese state-owned media Global Times, Wang Xiaojun, the head of the country’s top rocket manufacturer, announced this week that China is not only looking to putting a man on Mars by 2033 – it’s also working on the “sky ladder,” a delivery system made of carbon nanotubes (strong, miniscule carbon atom filaments) that can beam humans and cargo up to space stations for what it claims will be just 4% of the current cost.
Wang, who leads the state-owned China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, did not elaborate on the specifics of how this “sky ladder” all the way to Mars will work, but noted that it would be a starting point for future space voyages and transport missions to the red planet.
Xinhua News posted a video earlier this year that modeled how the system could potentially function for journeys to the moon. In the video, a capsule is seen being propelled from Earth to a Chinese space station, then leapfrogging its way to another space station before reaching a lunar landing pad.
Chinese crewed missions to Mars will involve five expeditions in 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041, and 2043, per a report from Chinese media outlet Sina News. The announcement of these missions follows China’s success with deploying a rover on Mars this year, and its launch this month of three taikonauts to its space station.
NASA is currently working on sending a crew to Mars in the 2030s.