A new step in the space race: China travels to the stars

A new step in the space race: China travels to the stars

Neptune, photographed by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA / JPL image

According to Wu Weiren, one of the leaders of the Chinese lunar research program, the two devices should be 15 billion kilometers from Earth by 2049. This is 100 times the distance from Earth to the sun. The centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China will be celebrated in 2049.

Initial plans for the Chinese “ Interstellar Express ” have already been submitted, but in an interview with China Space News this week, Wu said the mission is now officially part of the new five-year plan for Chinese space travel.

“This is just going to happen,” says Mark Klein Wolt, an astronomer from Nijmegen, who previously conducted a Dutch radio experiment on a Chinese satellite. If China says it will do something, it will. It is completely in line with their ambitious policy.

Space race

China is participating in a geopolitical space race with the United States. After a successful moon landing, plans are now underway to establish a manned lunar base with Russia. A Chinese robotic car is due to land on Mars next month, and its space station is under preparation.

The two identical probes on the Interstellar Express will close close to the solar system in opposite directions. They’ll basically measure the interaction of the solar wind – the electrically charged particles that the sun blows into space – with the extremely thin matter of interstellar space.

Just like the American Voyager space probes 40 years ago, Chinese aircraft first fly over Jupiter or Saturn, where they are accelerated by the giant planet’s gravity. One is also to fly through the distant planet Neptune in the year 2038. It was examined closely only once before, in 1989 by Voyager 2.

In Chinese Space News, Wu described the project as “China’s contribution to the world and to humanity.” Kline and Walt interested anyway. “Who knows, we might also be able to turn a radio antenna on this.”

Schematic illustration to illustrate the Chinese Interstellar Express: the Sentia Seneca
Illustration of interstellar Chinese expressionPhoto illustration: Scientia Seneca
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