China holds casting of space missions

The Chinese Academy of Sciences is preparing to select space missions that will be implemented under the third Strategic Priorities Program (also known as the New Horizons program). Their launch will take place in the period from 2026 to 2030 and will be timed to coincide with the next five-year plan.

Source: Yuko Shimizu

In total, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is considering 13 projects in the following four fields: astronomy and astrophysics, exoplanets, heliophysics, planetary research.

Astronomy and Astrophysics

In the field of astronomy and astrophysics, Chinese scientists are considering the following three projects:

  • eXTP (Enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry) — is a powerful X-ray observatory for observing the sky and providing multi-channel studies of gravitational waves and neutrino sources.
  • DAMPE-2 (DArk Matter Particle Explorer-2) — is a continuation of the DAMPE satellite mission to search for possible evidence of annihilation or signals of dark matter decay.
  • DSL (Discovering the Sky at the Longest Wavelength) — is a group of ten small satellites, which will be sent into lunar orbit and, using the Moon as a shield from terrestrial interference, will study weak signals from the early Universe.


Two projects are involved in the study of exoplanets: CHES (Closeby Habitable Exoplanet Survey) and ET. CHES will search for exoplanets from hundreds of sun-like stars closest to Earth using the astrometric method. The aim of ET will be to search for Earth-like exoplanets using the transit method. Both spacecraft will operate at the L2 Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system.


In the field of studying our Sun and heliosphere, the following projects are competing for victory:

  • SOR (SOlar Ring) — is a constellation of three 120° spaced satellites designed to study the Sun and the inner part of the heliosphere.
  • SPO (Solar Polar-orbit Observatory) — is an apparatus that will be put into orbit with an inclination of more than 80° with respect to the ecliptic plane to study the poles of the Sun.
  • ESEO (Solar Eclipse Observatory) — is an apparatus that will be brought to the L2 Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system to study the inner corona.
  • CHIME (Heliospheric Interstellar Medium Explorer) — is an apparatus that will take the first measurements of untouched interstellar gas and dust in areas of their high density at a distance of 2-3 AU from the Sun.

Planetary research

As for the sphere of planetary exploration, the following missions are on the list of candidates:

  • ASR (Asteroid Sample Return). The purpose of this project is to collect and deliver to Earth three samples collected at different locations of the 600-meter asteroid 1989 ML.
  • VOICE (Venus Volcano Imaging and Climate Explorer) — is an orbiter for studying the geological evolution of Venus, atmospheric thermochemical processes, the interaction of the surface and atmosphere, as well as assessing the potential of life in the Venusian clouds.
  • CACES (Climate and Atmospheric Components Exploring Satellites) — is a mission to study changes in the Earth’s climate and the composition of its atmosphere.
  • OSCOM (Ocean Surface Current multiscale Observation Mission) — is a mission to study the dynamics and energy of the Earth’s oceans.

It is expected that the Chinese Academy of Sciences will choose from 5 to 7 projects for implementation. The exact quantity will depend on the available budget, technological readiness and production schedule.

According to

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