How China Hopes to Fly Mars Samples to Earth Two Years Before NASA and ESA
Sunday June 26, 2022. 04:34 PM , from Slashdot
'China's Mars sample return mission aims to collect samples from the Red Planet and deliver them to Earth in 2031, or two years ahead of a NASA and ESA joint mission,' reports SpaceNews:
Lifting off in late 2028... the complex, multi-launch mission will have simpler architecture in comparison with the joint NASA-ESA project, with a single Mars landing and no rovers sampling different sites. However, if successful, it would deliver to Earth the first collected Martian samples; an objective widely noted as one of the major scientific goals of space exploration....
The mission will build on the Mars entry, descent and landing technologies and techniques demonstrated by Tianwen-1 in May 2021, as well as the regolith sampling, automated lunar orbit rendezvous and docking, and high velocity atmospheric reentry success achieved by the 2020 Chang'e-5 lunar sample return mission.... Landing on Mars would take place around September 2029. Sampling techniques will include surface sampling, drilling and mobile intelligent sampling, potentially using a four-legged robot.
The ascent vehicle will consist of two stages, using either solid or liquid propulsion, and will be required to reach a speed of 4.5 kilometers per second, according to the presentation. After rendezvous and docking with the waiting orbiter, the spacecraft will depart Mars orbit in late October 2030 for a return to Earth in July 2031.
Sun Zezhou [chief designer of the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter and rover mission], added that the Tianwen-1 orbiter will conduct an aerobraking test in Mars orbit later this year as part of the sample return mission preparation.
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