And you thought that the Chinese Communists had their heads down and were dealing with the Wuhan virus because of their well-known magnanimity, altruism, and concern for the rest of the world? That was the idlest of speculation, of course. They’ve got other ongoing initiatives that WILL NOT be impeded by a little old thing like a virus, including Made in China 2025, the Belt-Road Initiative, the Maritime Silk Road, the extensive modernization and expansion of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), massive technology and intellectual property theft, etc.

And it looks like they’re headed to Mars this summer come hell or high water, too. Who knew?

China’s first journey to Mars is one of the most anticipated space missions of the year. But with parts of the country in some form of lockdown because of the coronavirus, the mission teams have had to find creative ways to continue their work.

Researchers involved in the mission remain tight-lipped about its key aspects, but several reports from Chinese state media say that the outbreak will not affect the July launch — the only window for another two years.

“The launch is so important politically that they will make it happen,” says Raymond Arvidson, a planetary geologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who has been involved with several US Mars missions.

The centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party is in 2021, and a successful launch will be a “100-year anniversary gift”, says Wang Chi, a space physicist and director general of the National Space Science Center (NSSC) in Beijing, who is in charge of the scientific payloads involved in the mission.

China’s probe, called Huoxing, will include an orbiter, a lander and a rover — the first Mars probe to include all three. The project will have 13 scientific payloads, including several cameras, subsurface radar imagers and particle analyzers, as well as a magnetometer and magnetic-field detector. The mission’s scientific goals include studying the Martian morphology, geology, soil and water–ice distribution.

Wang says the coronavirus outbreak has affected the way his team works, but has not yet caused delays.

This, of course, is quite a big deal for the ChiComs, who are as enamored of a “space race” as the Soviets were about getting a man in space and to the moon before the Americans did. The ChiComs are all about basking in the prestige of being able to pull off a highly complex space mission and timing a Martian landing to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. It has to be a very high priority for the ChiComs – probably at least as important as their attempts to contain the damage from the Wuhan virus. This mission immediately makes me wonder about two things:

  • How much of the technology involved in the ChiComs Mars mission was stolen from the United States and reengineered?
  • Will the Chinese infect another planet with the Wuhan virus?

The world will be watching.

The end.

[H/T: JG]

Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy where he received a classical liberal education which serves as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political, military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs topics.
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