Inside China's plan to go to the Moon and Mars as work continues on private Chinese space station | The Sun

CHINA has revealed plans to dominate the aerospace industry – from the moon to Mars.

Three China-backed astronauts recently started a six-month mission to work on the country's new space station.

Tiangong Space Station

Dubbed Tiangong, the space station is being constructed in low-Earth orbit – between 210 and 280 miles above the surface.

China launched the first module of Tiangong last year and hopes to add more by the end of this year.

The nation has ambitions for Tiagnong to replace the International Space Station (ISS) after it retires in a few years.

Because of US law, the ISS is prohibited from hosting China-backed astronauts or sharing data with China.

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The construction of Tiangong is the latest move by the nation to position itself as a leading aerospace power.

Xuntian Space Telescope

Also on the agenda for China is to launch its own space telescope, called Xuntian, or the Chinese Space Station Telescope (CSST).

The CSST is expected to possess a 6.6-foot diameter primary mirror, as well as a field of view 300 times larger than NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

A field of view that wide would allow the telescope to observe up to 40 percent of the sky over ten years.

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If all goes as planned, the telescope will co-orbit Earth along with the Chinese space station and will be able to periodically dock. 

CSST is expected to launch sometime in 2024.

Chinese missions to the Moon and beyond

Other notable space missions for China include exploring Jupiter, building a research station on the Moon, and bringing back samples from Mars.

Bringing back samples from Mars – a feat that both Nasa and the ESA hope to achieve – seems to be one of the more important goals for China.

The plan was recently outlined by Wu Weiren, a senior scientist with the China National Space Administration.

According to Weiren, China would land a capsule on the Red Planet that would collect the samples.

The capsule would come equipped with an ascent vehicle (or a small rocket) that would fly the samples to an orbiter.

The orbiter would then ferry the collection back to Earth.

"The spacecraft for a sample-return mission to the Red Planet will be much heavier than lunar probes as it will carry a greater amount of fuel to fly a very long distance. Therefore, we need to build a powerful carrier rocket to transport the spacecraft," Weiren said.

Other huge aeronautical ambitions for China include sending a crewed mission to the Moon and building a lunar base for further exploration.

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China's major rocket manufacturer, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, has hinted that its engineers are currently building a super-heavy rocket named the Long March 9.

This rocket, experts believe, would be used for potential crewed missions to the Moon, as well as other deep-space missions in the future.

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