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Why Mars has become the focus of “Space Race 2.0”

SpaceX "Dragon" spacecraft successfully rendies with the International Space Station

NASA has signed a contract with SpaceX for the launch mission of the SPHEREX Space Telescope Project. The SPHEREx project will map the whole sky with near infrared light, and the mission may be launched as early as 2024. Image Source: Screenshot of NASA website.

February 21 that the U.S. space website published a report entitled “Why Mars has become the focus of competition for a new round of space race” on February 19th.

Different countries have different development models in space exploration, so the new space race is also different development models to a certain extent.

Competition between styles. This reflects the characteristics of the so-called “Space Age 2.0”.

Compared with Space Age 1.0, it looks more diversified, in which non-American participants, whether public or private institutions, occupy a prominent position, especially those from Asia. The full text is excerpted as follows:

Looking at China’s achievements in the past 10 years, no one will doubt that its goal is to win a new round of space race.

China was the first country to achieve a soft landing on the far side of the moon. It also planted the Chinese flag on the lunar surface and brought back samples of lunar soil.

However, this competition between several countries and private enterprises is far from over. China is currently approaching Mars using the Tianwen-1 probe that arrived in Mars orbit on February 10.

Successful entry into the orbit of Mars — the rover won’t land on Mars until May — will mark another important milestone for more than one reason.

Mars may not be far from Earth, but it is a challenging object of exploration. The data proves this. Of the 49 Mars exploration missions as of December 2020, only about 20 have been successful. Not all failures are caused by novices or early attempts.

In 2016, the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli Mars lander crashed on the surface of Mars.

In addition, existing technical problems have forced the European Space Agency and its partner, the Russian National Space Corporation, to postpone the next Mars exploration mission to 2022.

China is not the only country to explore Mars. On February 9 this year, the UAE’s Hope probe also completed its entry into Mars orbit.

It is not a direct competitor to China’s Mars exploration mission (the probe will fly around Mars to study the weather on Mars), but NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is certainly. The probe arrived at Mars on February 18.

To further aggravate the competition, one Asian country has also done it in the few countries that have successfully completed the operation of entering Mars orbit, that is, India.

In 2014, the Indian Mars rover Mangarian arrived in Mars orbit. This made India the first Asian country to send the probe to Mars orbit, and the first launch was successful.

In terms of exploring space, different countries have different development models, so the new space race is also a competition between different development models to a certain extent.

This reflects the characteristics of the so-called “Space Age 2.0”. Compared with Space Age 1.0, it looks more diversified, in which non-American participants, whether public or private institutions, occupy a prominent position, especially those from Asia.

India’s space program has achieved some remarkable successes, such as providing countries eager to put their satellites into orbit with affordable launch services for each other.

In 2017, India launched a launch vehicle carrying 104 satellites, a record high in history – a new record of “the largest number of single satellites launched”. Except for three foreign satellites, all of which are owned and manufactured by India.

What’s more impressive is that the cost of the Indian Mars exploration mission is relatively low, only $74 million – about one-tenth of NASA’s Mars atmospheric and volatiles evolution mission.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi once joked that the cost of the whole Mars exploration mission is lower than the cost of the Hollywood film Gravity.

In addition, the Indian Space Research Organization plans to carry out another lunar exploration and Venus exploration mission.

Space Race 2.0 is undoubtedly heating up.

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