China wants to launch a duo of ships to Jupiter, Uranus

China plans to launch two spacecraft on the same rocket to other planets in the solar system around 2030.

Illustration of Jupiter and the moon Callisto. Photo: Ianm35

The new mission is called Tianwen 4, in which the large spacecraft will explore Jupiter and the small spacecraft will fly to distant Uranus. Expert Wang Qiong at the Center for Space Engineering and Lunar Exploration of China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced this plan during the 2022 International Astronautical Congress in Paris, Space on 23rd. /9 reported.

The spacecraft duo will launch on a Long March 5 rocket, make one close flyby of Venus and two close Earth flybys to enter orbit towards the outer part of the solar system. After that, they will separate and continue to fly to their respective targets.

The large spacecraft will explore Jupiter, then enter orbit around the moon Callisto for detailed study. Callisto is the outermost moon of Jupiter's four largest moons. The smaller spacecraft, with a mass of a few hundred kilograms, will make the trip further to Uranus. It may also approach an asteroid en route to the outer solar system.

"Scientific goals are still being considered," Wang said. Earlier information showed that China was considering whether to focus on the moon Callisto or other moons with unusual orbits. The CNSA had also previously considered sending a landing station to Callisto. But according to Wang, the latest plan only has an orbiter without a lander.

The Tianwen 4 mission is part of China's solar system exploration program, Tianwen. The country launched its first independent interplanetary mission in 2020, sending the Thien Van 1 orbiter and the Chuc Dung robot to Mars.

Next, Tianwen 2 will roll out around 2025, and target the small near-Earth asteroid, Kamo'oalewa, to collect samples, then visit a Main Belt Comet (MBC) object ). Tianwen 3 is a complex Mars sampling mission, deployed as early as 2028, bringing back to Earth precious samples from the red planet.

The goal of the above missions, along with the plan to build the International Lunar Research Station in the 2030s, is to "promote the exploitation of human resources to create a new model of international cooperation in the field," Wang said. space exploration, contributing to the peaceful use of space".

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