Tianwen-1 is seen flying above Mars in a new video


Tianwen-1 is seen flying above Mars in a new video.

"China's space industry will contribute more to the country's overall growth."

On Tuesday, China will usher in the Year of the Tiger, and on the eve of the celebration, the Chinese space program sent a special message from Mars.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars for nearly a year, has taken a "selfie" video showing the craft passing in front of the planet. This footage was captured by a camera mounted on the end of a slender arm that extends 1.6 meters away from the spacecraft and is used by operators to monitor the spacecraft's health.

Tianwen-1's waggling solar panels, main engine, and fuel tanks are among the visual highlights. The ice-capped northern pole of Mars appears in the backdrop about halfway through.

 This image shows a spacecraft orbiting another planet for the first time, and it's rather impressive. Its release on the eve of the Chinese New Year highlights how the country's leadership utilizes civil spaceflight to build national pride and endeavor to establish China as a global competitor to the US.

Of course, some of this is propaganda. China, on the other hand, has a strong national space program. On Friday, the government released a white paper outlining China's five-year civil space plan, which intends to keep the country on a positive track.

"Over the next five years, China will combine space science, technology, and applications while pursuing a new development philosophy, constructing a new development model, and achieving the conditions for high-quality development," says the report.

China's space program plans to finish its Tiangong space station and launch a satellite telescope in the next half-decade. The country also intends to conduct more research into a "plan for a human lunar landing" as well as crucial technology research in order to establish the groundwork for exploring and exploiting cislunar space. China eventually intends to erect a "research outpost" on the Moon in collaboration with Russia and other foreign partners. This pits China against NASA, which aims to bring nations together under the "Artemis Accords" and conduct a series of lunar landings in the late 2020s and early 2030s.

China also plans to expand on its budding robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars. China intends to capture and return back data from the moon with the Chang'e-6 lunar mission.

The five-year plan lays forth a vision for space exploration that is extraordinarily ambitious. By the end of the decade, China would be able to compete with NASA and its commercial space industry.

Unfortunately, neither the white paper nor China's secretive leadership disclose budgeting information or transparency about space spending. To achieve some of these goals, China will almost probably need to invest substantially more money in space than it does now. As a result, China's space goals are likely to be contingent on the country's economy maintaining stable.