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China and Russia to Launch Joint Mars Mission 182

Posted by Zonk
from the we-might-get-there-someday dept.
The Interfacer writes "China and Russia are planning a joint mission to Mars that will bring back samples to earth and land on one of the red planet's tiny moons, state media quoted a Chinese scientist as saying Wednesday." From the article: "Russia will launch the spacecraft, while China will provide the survey equipment to carry out the unmanned exploration, Ye Peijian, a senior scientist at the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, told a meeting in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua news agency."
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China and Russia to Launch Joint Mars Mission

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  • Oh dear. (Score:5, Funny)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:02AM (#15977805)
    Red planet, ha ha.
    • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:32AM (#15978067)
      China and Russia have rarely gotten along. In decades past, they had a good chunk of their nukes pointed at each other, large armies stationed at their border, and their politics didn't always match dispite their supposed shared Communism.

      These days, you'd be hard pressed to call either country Communist. I think of both as sort of Wild-West capitalist societies. Now they seem to be forming an economic alliance against the other growing political powers - mostly Europe and the US. It's been interesting watching how similar their replies are in the current Iran negotiations.

      I think they're both interested in developing their high tech sectors, and see it as a natural partnership. Russia has lots of experience, while China has a very well-developed industrial base.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        This has very interesting political consequences in the US, as well. What we're seeing is the first massive event of the end of the American domination of the scientific and engineering fields.

        We can't deny that the various religious fundamentalists are somewhat responsible. They have successfully lobbied the US government to reduce its financial support to NASA and other scientific bodies. They have even taken the "battle" to the classroom.

        Unfortunately for all American citizens, this group of fundamentali
        • the U.S. had its biggest growth, in technology and economy, during times when the populace was much more religious. Blaming the lack of R&D and shortsightedness of our big oil/big corp oligarchy on the fundies is just silly, most of the presidents and executive brnach in the last 30 years haven't been fundies
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          "They attempt to make up for their own lack of education by forcing their twisted ideas about the world on others, including people and organizations who wish to improve our understanding of nature via the scientific method."

          Thank you for stero typing. I'm a christian, probably not a fundamentalist, but a Bible belivin Christian. I have a college education in software engineering. Also, 3 of the Math professors, 2 engineering professors and a physics professor at my college were all christians. I would s

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) *
          Here we go again!

          We can't deny that the various religious fundamentalists are somewhat responsible. They have successfully lobbied the US government to reduce its financial support to NASA and other scientific bodies. They have even taken the "battle" to the classroom.

          WTF is up with all the trolling on "religious fundamentalism" lately? I mean, space travel is about as far away as you can get from a hot-button issue for the religious conservatives! If anything, perhaps you should be congratulating our "fund

        • by Rotten168 (104565)
          Wow. I figured there'd be a load of "blame the fundies, the US is losing it's technology edge" posts but I never expected to come across one so quickly! Bravo my good man!
        • Notice that nations like Russia and China don't have religious fundamentalists participating in organized attacks against science and scientific discovery.

          The arrogance and ignorance in that statement are stunning. Please read up on, oh, who's behind the separatist movement in Chechnya, as far as I know American fundamentalists haven't blown up subway stations or killed hundreds of hostages.
      • by rubycodez (864176)
        dude, Russia isn't communist anymore. that government fell. maybe you missed it. So yeah, you'd be hard pressed to call Russia communist!
      • Interesting politically? You bet.

        See these two [slashgeo.org] stories [slashgeo.org] on China's Compass program. In short: China is launching a GPS competitor. Yes, in addition to GLONASS, GALILEO and GPS satellites. Oh, they're also interested in environmental remote sensing now [slashgeo.org]...
  • or is it civ4? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by legoburner (702695) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:02AM (#15977813) Homepage Journal
    Isaac Asimov: There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.

    Any space program is good news in my mind.
    • Why it makes me mad. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *
      Well, you pose a good point. However, as this Space.com article from 2001 [space.com] states:

      The Russian Space Agency already has a hard time completing crucial supply spacecraft for the International Space Station. Now it has committed to build spacecraft for China and help train Chinese astronauts, possibly leaving the space station grasping for seconds.

      China and Russia can be friends [heritage.org] or the "NATO of the East" or whatever you want to call it. But, to surpass your role in the ISS and instead strike up another work

      • Why can't Russia support the ISS and China's program? Unlike the US or Chinese space programs, Russia gets a lot of hard currency for its participation. They might even be making a profit here. Especially when you consider economies of scale, Russia may be *better* able to support the ISS due to its activity with China.

        • by -cman- (94138)
          From the article, all the Russians are supplying is the heavy lift vehicle and probably a earth-to-mars transfer stage. Sounds like a juicy launch contract for a Soyuz or Proton booster, but not much else. It is probably good for the old cash flow situation for the Russian Space Agency.

          I'm suprised the Chinese didn't elect to use a Long March [wikipedia.org] rocket but it may not have quite the throw they need for the transfer stage. With a 2009 launch date, I'm assuming they are pretty far along in planning and buildin
          • by khallow (566160)

            From the article, all the Russians are supplying is the heavy lift vehicle and probably a earth-to-mars transfer stage. Sounds like a juicy launch contract for a Soyuz or Proton booster, but not much else. It is probably good for the old cash flow situation for the Russian Space Agency.

            I guess I was mistaken about the size of the project. But it still sounds exactly like what Russia should be going for.
          • I'm suprised the Chinese didn't elect to use a Long March rocket but it may not have quite the throw they need for the transfer stage.

            That's an understatement. The current generation of Long March rockets have all the lift power of a Delta II rocket (one of the smaller rockets currently in production), despite having all the fanfare of the Saturn V. While China hopes to change that situation with the Long March 5, that rocket is still a ways in the future.

            Until China develops a medium to heavy lift vehicle,

            • by khallow (566160)

              Until China develops a medium to heavy lift vehicle, they're going to need a third party rocket to attempt something as ambitious as a Mars mission. U.S. security restrictions make access to our rockets difficult, making Russia the next best choice. The fact that Russia sells their rocketry services on the cheap doesn't hurt either.

              Russia might be the next best choice even if China could use US technology. Russia does have cheaper prices.
      • "NATO of the East"

        TATO? Trans-Asia Treaty Organization. Though I don't think they'd directly use English for this, I don't know any Chinese or much Russian so I don't know what they'd call it if they did form such an organization.

        It would be unfortunate to see ISS go by the wayside, but even with its origina schedule and current design, I'm not sure it was boing to be scientifically useful anyway.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cyclone96 (129449)
        But, to surpass your role in the ISS and instead strike up another working plan with China is kind of ... well, not very supportive of the ISS.

        You make a good point, but I think the space.com article from 2001 was off the mark when it suggest the Russians may take away support from ISS for other programs.

        I've worked extensively with the Russians on ISS and been to Moscow many, many times. Culturally, manned spaceflight is a big deal to the Russians, much more so than Americans (how many Americans even know
    • Any space program is good news in my mind.

      It remains to be seen if this is a real program, or just the latest in a series of press releases and power points, or the latest time a low-level Chinese space official voiced some wishful thinking that the mass media trumpeted as fact. (In fact the article clearly states, that this is sourced from a mid-level bureaucrat - not the Chinese goverment.)

      As a side note: It's fascinating to watch the slashdot hivemind doublethink in these articles. The same

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:03AM (#15977821) Homepage
    Why would they go to all that trouble of making such a huge trip and not land on the planet???

    I know maybe it has larger risks but COME ON, it's not like you go to Mars every week.

    • BTW nice summary. Someone should add a bug UNMANNED in bold in there so people don't get so excited.

      • by diersing (679767)
        BTW, nice job posting a comment after reading the headline. No one is expecting you to RTFA before going off all half-cocked, but at the least RTFS - rather then forcing posters to put keywords in all caps or otherwise draw attention for your understanding I'd recommend you read the summary twice, or the article once, before posting. Thank you for your continued support.
    • by Branc0 (580914)
      From what I read in the posted news, it seems they go almsot every Wendsday!
    • by loose electron (699583) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:38AM (#15978129) Homepage
      IMHO ? Gravity.

      Getting on and off of a moon with a very low level of gravity is easier and cheaper than landing on something where you need to land and launch,while fighting the planets gravitational pull.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by J05H (5625)
      > Why would they go to all that trouble of making such a huge trip and not land on the planet???
      > I know maybe it has larger risks but COME ON, it's not like you go to Mars every week.

      Russian scientists have been obsessed with Phobos for decades. There is a lot of science and discovery on that tiny moon, including samples of Mars (blown into space and swept onto Phobos) and other solar system bodies. Landing on Phobos is worlds easier than Mars itself, and there is an amount of preservation available
      • They had better not be setting up some kind of research base on Phobos. We all know where that leads [wikipedia.org].
        • by J05H (5625)
          DOOM isn't that far from the truth. The Russian scientists that orginally studied Phobos insisted it was an artificial satellite. Along with resource extraction, they were hoping to find artifacts or evidence.
    • Agreed. The proposed mission seems to be a replay of the ill-fated Phobos mission [russianspaceweb.com]. It is puzzling that the Russiams would want to conduct a sample return mission when an asteroid sample return mission would require less energy. Phobos and demos are likely captured S-type main belt asteroids. Why go to the trouble of going to Mars to sample them. Sampling a C or M type body would be a lot more interesting. As for China, they don't offer much except money I'd guess.

      As for others on this forum denegrating th

  • Just like old times!
  • Space Race?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Hopefully this will kick off another space race and we can get NASA's butt back in gear to get a man on Mars first.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sheridan3003 (165213)
      I wouldn't count on it until we get more people interested in space again. Too many people think other things are more important that science and research for it's own sake. Now if we could find gold or oil on something out there that we could get back on terra firma easily, that would be a space race!
  • Capricorn 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:05AM (#15977843) Homepage Journal
    The day has arrived when a Russian/Chinese announcement of a Mars mission is believable, while the American president's announcement [google.com] is mere political propaganda.
    • by Doc Ruby (173196)
      Moderation +1
          60% Insightful
          20% Flamebait
          10% Troll

      TrollMods think Bush will invade Mars for them, if only the antiscience liberals would get out of the way of their can-do Republican Congress.
    • by monkeydo (173558)
      Apples and coconuts. Bush is talking about a manned mission to mars. The Chinese are talking about some dinky probes. BTDT. And please provide evidence that this announcement is somthing other than "mere political propaganda."
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Yeah, and if the Russian/Chinese mission were manned, you'd say they weren't comparable because the US is sending Americans to Mars, and the ex-soviets aren't.

        Something more than mere political propaganda from the Chinese space program?

        RFTA:
        "In 2003, China became only the third country -- after the United States and Soviet Union -- to launch a man into space aboard its own rocket. In October 2005, it sent two men into orbit, and another manned orbit is slated for 2007."
        [...]
        "China expects to launch its firs
        • by monkeydo (173558)
          Let's see, manned vs. unmanned is like American vs. Chinese...

          Sorry, the judges aren't going to give you that one. Sending a probe and sending a human are not even in the same ballpark. You're still comparing pine trees and volkswagons. But that's pretty typical of people who have nothing more interesting to say than some random criticism of President Bush.

          The first American Astronaut traveled into space in 1961. How does the fact that China sent a man into space three years ago have any bearing on a pl
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            The entire bearing is that China is determined to create a domestic space industry, as demonstrated by their actual accomplishments, which have lived up to their stated plans. While the Bush has squandered the US lead in space by saying some cheap words, and letting his 6 years feature the worst slowdown yet of an already tragically moribund industry.

            When China and Russia say they'll bring back Mars samples, which America hasn't done, there's reason to believe it. When Bush says we'll put Americans on Mars,
  • by pablo_max (626328) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:07AM (#15977863)
    who hopes this sparks a real space race? Although, it would be a shame it was all for the sake of going there and then doing nothing again for 40 years.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:07AM (#15977864)
    HASA has either suspended or cancelled outright nearly half of its space probe missions due to cost constraints. These compete against the Shuttle Return To Space, the new Orion manned spacecraft, ISS construction, and the presidential Return to the Moon and Mars initiatives. So its nice other countries are picking up the slack.
  • by w33t (978574) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:21AM (#15977969) Homepage
    What's keeping the US from joining with them?

    If it's feasable that the US alone could go to mars, and that Russia and China together can go to mars - then could not all three work together to achieve this goal better?

    Or is it neccessary to have the "us" and "them" philosophy when it comes to these kinds of projects?

    Must there always be an adversary?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RsG (809189)
      Sure, the US could push for a multilateral approach to space exploration. Now, stop and think about the current state of affairs in the 'states and you'll see why this isn't likely to happen.

      Ths US has a massive deficit, and little actual interest in spaceflight. I have no doubt that NASA could get to Mars and back again, if they had both the budget and the full support of congress and the general public. But in the absence of either, there is little room for new spaceflight programs in their agenda. An
      • by FleaPlus (6935) *
        This isn't about an adversarial approach to space exploration; China and Russia aren't competing with America. For there to be competition, the US would actually have to have a similar program in place.

        Huh?

        Number of space probes has the USA launched or operated at Mars in the 2000s: 5 (Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Spirit, Opportunity, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter)

        Number for Russia: 0

        Number for China: 0
        • by RsG (809189)
          Number that have been there and back: 0

          Plus, the Russians launched several probes to Mars under the USSR, though they did have a high failure rate. So you're correct only in saying they haven't gone in this decade. Selecting your time period to exclude the earlier missions doesn't make much sense - it's like ignoring the Apollo program in the US because it happened thirty to forty years ago.

          The US program isn't a major one at the moment. That could change, and if it does then either international competi
    • by khallow (566160)

      Or is it neccessary to have the "us" and "them" philosophy when it comes to these kinds of projects?

      I think it's necessary to have competition. Plus, the record on international cooperation on large scale space projects isn't that great.

    • Why no American involvement?

      1) Americans have lower tolerances for dangerous situations; there is much less concern about the political fashions of "soccer moms" in countries where life is already cheap.

      2) American space agencies can't do anything without checking with their defense contractors and their home states first to make sure the money will flow to political contributors and reliable voters.

      You're welcome.
    • by Keebler71 (520908)
      Right... Because that worked out so well with ISS.
    • by FleaPlus (6935) *
      If it's feasable that the US alone could go to mars, and that Russia and China together can go to mars - then could not all three work together to achieve this goal better?

      The more countries the merrier, right? After all, that's done wonders for the on-budget, on-time, scientifically productive International Space Station.

      (And yes, I am being sarcastic)
      • by w33t (978574)
        hehe, good point though.

        Of course, would we even have a space station if it were not for the international cooperation?

        Regardless of it's usefulness (which is, I admit, hard to disregard) it is a large accomplishment that it is even up there.

        I wonder, is the space station the largest (read: most expensive) international scientific project? I think it's costs have quite dwarfed even the Large Hadron Collider [wikipedia.org].

        Perhaps the ISS is a good example of how much can be accomplished through international cooperation
        • by FleaPlus (6935) *
          Of course, would we even have a space station if it were not for the international cooperation?

          Sure, the Russians managed to have a space station for several years without international cooperation.
    • by kabocox (199019)
      If it's feasable that the US alone could go to mars, and that Russia and China together can go to mars - then could not all three work together to achieve this goal better?
      Or is it neccessary to have the "us" and "them" philosophy when it comes to these kinds of projects?
      Must there always be an adversary?


      Yes, we are generally slow and stupid when we can get away with it. I bet you China/Russia would be 1/3 of the way to Mars before the US really makes a response, and then we'd try to one up them by rushing
    • What's keeping the US from joining with them?

      ITAR
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Chinese should land on Mars. This way, hundred of years later, they can claim that Mars is "historically" Chinese terriroty, and setup intergalatic missles aiming at Mars to demand re-unification with the renagade RED planet.
  • Competition (Score:2, Interesting)

    by danilo.moret (997554)
    It would be good to compare the cost of chinese and russian unmanned exploration missions to NASA's cost. If their missions turn out to be less expensive and more successful than those from the US, I think that space exploration would gain a lot with it. Cheaper missions in larger quantities, improving quality over time: that sounds like something the chinese could do better than the rest of the world right now.

    --
    "I, for one, welcome our new unmanned red overlords"
  • Me too! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:02AM (#15978343)

    I'm planning a mission to Mars to be launched from my backyard in 2012.

    *Anyone* can *plan* a mission.

  • by khallow (566160) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:02AM (#15978350)

    Russia really benefits, if this goes through. This sort of thing has the potential to guarantee substantial launch volume for them. Always a nice thing to have. And given China's economy, I suspect that China sooner or later will be paying most of the bills.

    I find it interesting that China apparently is forgoing the launch vehicles. I think this is a big shift in the focus of their space program. Maybe from a strategic angle, they think that they can build up their launch systems later or maybe buy/steal the necessary technology from Russia.

  • by lobotomir (882610) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:34AM (#15978682)
    This is a link [energia.ru] to an interview with the General Designer of Russia's Korolev Space and Rocket Corporation. Interesting information about the Clipper space transportation system, and also about ion engine spaceships that they plan to send to the Moon and Mars.
  • by damburger (981828) on Friday August 25, 2006 @12:19PM (#15979134)
    Anyone else get the nice google ad?

    Visiting Mars? Find Deals & Read Hotel Reviews!
  • by WoTG (610710) on Friday August 25, 2006 @01:03PM (#15979511) Homepage Journal
    IMHO, this is very significant.

    My very uninformed view of China's space program so far is that it's largely been purchased Russian technology with some in-house few updates. This makes sense for everyone, since Russia has been consistently launching rockets and orbiters for decades now, and China might as well take a little help to get some experience.

    This time, from the article, it looks to like China will be doing the "interesting" science portion of this joint mission and Russia "just" does the pushing. Yes, others have built planetary landers before, but not so many that task is mature or easy.

    So, this might be China's coming out party with respect to space research and technology. And then they'll shoot for the moon... (literally).
  • Is 0 for all of them. Other than a couple of Venus landers their record for going to the moon, mars or anywhere else is ZERO. I don't know if I'd take that bet.

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