China is looking at ways of expanding its space exploration capabilities through developing a vehicle similar to NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter.
A prototype of “Mars surface cruise drone” passed a final acceptance review on Aug. 20, the National Space Science Center (NSSC) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced Wednesday.
The picture posted by the science centre reveals a tiny rotorcraft with two huge blades placed on a table — strongly inspired by NASA’s Ingenuity, SpaceNews reporter Andrew Jones pointed out onTwitter.
“The fun way to put it would be that it is the opposite of ‘Ingenuity,’” Jones joked. “More Familiarity than Ingenuity, but more the merrier.”
The done was one of three projects in a technology cultivation program promoted by the NSSC. The project was led by Bian Chunjiang of the NSSC and featured a micro spectrometer to scan the geographical features of the Martian landscape.
The Ingenuity-inspired rotorcraft might be considered for future Chinese Mars exploration, but the NSSC has not yet specified a mission on which the drone may fly.
However, China’s plans for exploration of the Martian land are petty obvious. China declared earlier this year that they are going to deploy its first manned mission to Mars by 2033.
It’s just not it; China’s first Mars mission, Tianwen-1, entered orbit in February. This feat was followed by a successful landing of the Zhurong rover in May. China’s next Mars mission is set to launch in 2028 or 2030.
NASA has been perfecting the Ingenuity helicopter design for several years, mimicking Mars’ extreme circumstances on Earth. The mission was a huge success, and the small four-pound rotorcraft struck every target. Since its first-ever journey in mid-April, the helicopter has been flown 12 times.
The Tianwen-1 mission of China carried a lot of surprises, and the competition for space exploration will certainly be strong now that this new concept is developed.