At the beginning of 2021, China published a series of new developments in its major aerospace programs. According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the various modules, spacecraft, and rockets of the engineering space station under China’s first space station developed by the CASC are under final assembly and testing as planned. The core module of its manned space station is scheduled to be launched this spring. Besides, China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 is expected to implement its braking at periareon in February this year.
At present, China’s manned space program has entered mission preparation phase for its space station construction. During 2021 and 2022, China’s manned space program is expected to conduct a total of 11 launches including the core module, two experiment modules, four crewed spacecraft, and four cargo spacecraft to complete the construction of the space station. China’s space station project has completed all the tests specified in the overall outline.
In terms of China’s spacecraft system, the final assembly of the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft’s recovery and landing subsystem has been completed.
Three launch vehicles, namely Long March-2F, Long March-7, and Long March-5B carrier rockets, will send the crewed spacecraft, cargo spacecraft, and core module into space. They are under final assembly and testing in an orderly manner in China’s Beijing and Tianjin. The launch of the core module by the Long March-5B Y2 carrier rocket, among others, is planned to be carried out at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in China’s Hainan Province this spring.
In terms of planetary exploration, as of 6 a.m. on January 3, Tianwen-1, China’s first-ever Mars probe, has been in space for about 163 days with a journey of more than 400 million km. The spacecraft was around 130 million km away from Earth and about 8.3 million km from Mars.
Next, Tianwen-1 is scheduled to implement the braking at periareon when approaching Mars around February 10, then enter the Martian orbit and prepare for its landing on Mars.