China intends to launch a manned spacecraft to Mars by 2033, setting a clear timetable for Beijing’s ambitious effort to make Washington a space superpower.

Wang Xiaojun, president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, one of China’s state-owned aerospace companies, said in a speech delivered by Chinese state media that Beijing hopes to send astronauts to the red planet through five missions between 2033 and 2043.

Wang said at the Global Space Exploration Conference on Thursday that China must first return soil samples from Mars and perform some other robotic missions before sending astronauts or establishing research bases on Earth.

Wang also described the anticipated third stage, during which travel to Mars became commonplace, including the possibility of using multiple space stations to form a “ladder” for travelers along the way.

China’s rapid progress in mastering the launch vehicle and satellite technology required for advanced space flight has become The source of prestige at home and abroad Prepare for the Communist Party before celebrating its 100th anniversary next month.

But Beijing’s aggressive timetable and rapid launch speed have caused concerns among some American politicians. Threat to national security If Washington loses its technological leadership.

NASA also plans to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s after returning to the moon later this decade.

Analysts worry that the lack of coordination, trust and communication between countries may lead to accidents or unnecessary safety issues. Since 2011, US law has prohibited NASA from cooperating with the Chinese space program.

Beijing has Placed the core module of its space station It became the second country after the United States to successfully land a Mars rover on Mars this year.

China insists that its ambition is peaceful and welcomes international cooperation. Beijing is also exploring the possibility of cooperating with Russia to establish a research base on the lunar surface.

Three Chinese astronauts settled on the Chinese Space Station last week. They will stay there for three months, disassembling supplies, and preparing for future visits and scientific research.

Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated the crew in a video call broadcast across the country on Wednesday, saying that the station will “make a pioneering contribution to the peaceful use of space by mankind.”

“We Chinese astronauts now have a long-term home in orbit,” replied Nie Haisheng, the leader of the trio.

Supplementary report by Emma Zhou in Beijing

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