back to article Mars race: China dreams of nuclear rockets, manned bases, and space elevators

Over the next quarter century, China wants to set up a permanent base on Mars for "large scale development of the Red Planet," and install a sci-fi carbon-nanotube elevator to shuttle goods between the surface and spacecraft in orbit. That’s according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), the country’s …

  1. aldolo

    a good idea to crash china

    the wasted resources could pave the way to hell for china. it all seems a cheat from usa.

  2. Henry Hallan

    Cosmic Dodgeball

    The Fountains of Paradise also pointed out the problem. Mars has a moon inside synchronous orbit. The book proposed shaking the tether to dodge the moon. I wonder what the Chinese are suggesting?

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Cosmic Dodgeball

      Blow up the moon, simple. Or mine it for ressources?

    2. Geoff May (no relation)

      Re: Cosmic Dodgeball

      Kim Stanley Robinson also discusses this in the Mars trilogy he wrote. Very interesting series of books:

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Cosmic Dodgeball

        And in KSR's trilogy, he names the "shaking the tether", the "Clarke Oscillation", in honour of Clarke.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Here's the plan

    The last step is to send to Mars all dissenters.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Here's the plan

      You mean "first step"...

      Pretty much like with the colonies in Australia, right? And there's lots of red sand and rock on Mars as well, no good surfing nor diving though, but maybe the wildlife is not as dangerous?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here's the plan

        Except Joe, the difference is the enlightened Georgians were hoping a change of environment would reform the criminal classes into productive citizens. In 40 years they began their first local university. When the gold rushes hit, free settler immigration numbers swamped the forced immigrants. Until the woke mobs infested, it was a success. Whereas I suspect cost of going to Mars may make unwanted humans more profitable on Earth, if rumours are to be believed. Like all vanity projects, I suspect it will die a sudden early death. Until I see the lovely glow of a nuclear spacecraft leaving Earth orbit it aint happening.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Even if you do see the lovely glow of a nuclear spacecraft leaving Earth orbit, it still might not happen.

          There are a lot of things that can go wrong, and if any one of them does go wrong, it is likely to spell doom for the would-be colonizers.

          Sending people to Mars is going to require huge amounts of planning and preparation, to an extent that we have not yet, in my opinion, proven ourselves capable of. There is the issue of radiation exposure during the trip. There is the bigger issue of all the stuff that will be required to set up camp. One rocket will surely not be enough, but the bigger question is how to land all that stuff on Mars. And then there's the question of how to land it all on Mars within walking distance of the humans who are supposed to set it all up.

          They won't have weeks to get it working. They'll likely need to have a habitat within the first 24 hours. If they waste days gathering all their stuff because it landed all helter-skelter, that will increase the difficulty exponentially.

          As you can see, I'm not optimistic about colonizing Mars. On the other hand, we have to try. So, good luck China.

          1. Geoff Campbell

            Walking distance?

            We had lunar rovers in 1971. You can bet that some form of light utility vehicle will be in the very first cargo to be set to Mars.

            I mean, sure, the distances will still be limited. But that's the least of the problems to be overcome, really.

            Also, 24 hours? They can live on board ship after landing for weeks, if necessary.


          2. Binraider Bronze badge

            For anything other than a flags-and-footprints mission, the obvious solution is to send a bunch of stuff ahead of time. Metal sintering and 3-d printing are obvious routes for being able to produce spare parts where you can't carry a bottomless pit of redundancies and spares.

            Test programmes to take crew to Mars will undoubtedly have to do an unmanned, all-up landing at least once. One may as well take cargo along for that ride.

            US politics and money-printing-for-vote schemes mean their effort is somewhat diluted; though at this point it is absolutely obvious development of a low-cost heavy lift launcher is the key to making an extended duration possible through multiple deliveries. All hail the church of Musk.

            Like Apollo, the push to do things because they are hard will pay dividends in the spin offs.

            I'm only sad that I was too late to be part of the initial push; and too early to be part of the eventual push into the high frontier. Highly recommend the game of the same name.

        2. Henry Hallan

          Re: Here's the plan

          Nuclear spacecraft were considered feasable for Mars missions in 1968.

          Not much glow, though.

        3. batfink Silver badge

          Re: Here's the plan

          "The enlightened Georgians were hoping a change of environment would reform the criminal classes into productive citizens"


          No. They were just shipping their convicts to a dumping ground the far side of the world to use them as the basis for colonisation of a new land. This was necessary as the previous dumping ground had become unavailable due to the American War of Independence.

          There was no chance of repatriation if someone did become a "productive citizen".

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: Here's the plan

            >>>no chance of repatriation<<<

            Other than buying a ticket once their transportation sentence was complete?

        4. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Here's the plan

          "Until the woke mobs infested, it was a success."

          I'm guessing your definition of "woke mobs", would include all the people who objected at the time, or are they the wrong part of history?

          I also doubt the aborigines considered it much of a success either, but I guess they're just another woke mob right?

          Still, I'm sure the "enlightened Georgians" who congratulated themselves on how considerate and humane they were being would be glad to know that someone still believes their propaganda.

          1. Denarius Silver badge

            Re: Here's the plan

            QED. Citations please. I assume you have not read Watkins Tench diaries? Still available. You don't know any non-professional aborigines either I take it ?Also have you learned the differnce between cultural myths and history ?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Here's the plan

        "Pretty much like with the colonies in Australia, right?"

        Not really, no. You can't just send a ship load of convicts, give them each an axe and expect them to build their own shelters and live off the land. They might get a bit breathless just hunting for trees to chop down, let alone actually chopping them down :-)

        1. Denarius Silver badge

          Re: Here's the plan

          Correct. The Oz settlers nearly starved for some years, until they found decent land away from the "scientific sites of interest" which still are basically old sand dunes into the Hunter river plains. Not to mention realizing the seasons were the wrong way round to their experience and the long drought at time ended. I digress. The whole problem of colonnising Mars is Why ? What economic incentives, industries exist given teh huge cost of going there ? How can a sustainable settlement be built ? So gar I have seen no answer.

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: Here's the plan

            Why? - The same reason humans walked out of East Africa and managed to get everywhere on this planet millennia ago. If we want to go, there's nothing stopping us from expending the effort.

            Why? - Mars colonisation is now achievable, people will find ways to make a living there.

            Why? - Many humans like a challenge.

    2. Magani

      Re: Here's the plan

      I can see the headlines in the Global Times already:-

      "Uyghurs, start your new life on Mars NOW!"

  4. Geoff Campbell

    Ah, now...

    ...that should get the whole of the USA lined up behind Elon Musk. They like nothing better than a good testosterone-fuelled race to a distant rocky ball, and they also hate nothing more than being beaten to that rocky ball by foreigners.


    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Ah, now...

      TBH, and it's been said here before, it'd be no surprise to see Musk ready for a trip to Mars before NASA is ready, and quite probably before the Chinese. At the very least, SpaceX have proven they can build fast. They have a ways to get yet though. They need to properly launch and prove Starship and make sure they have the life support and backup systems for long periods in space, not to mention multiple safe landings and take-offs on/from Mars.

      I could see the Chinese potentially making it first as they are more likely to take risks to be first if it's looking like a race they want to win. On the other hand, the Chinese are good at patience if they think coming late to the party is the better long term option.

  5. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    That reminds me

    of Cordwainer Smith's When the People Fell (apart from the fact that was colonising Venus not Mars.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

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