The Chinese government has appointed former Basketball star and NBA Hall of Fame Yao Ming as China’s ambassador to Mars.
China plans the country’s first mission to Mars in 2020 and although Yao Ming won’t have to travel to the Red Planet, he will be one of the faces of the expedition on Earth.
The 7-ft 6-inch eight time NBA All-Star will help generate interest and support for China’s bid to send a rover to Mars to join NASA’s Curiosity spacecraft. Eleven ambassadors were recruited by China, including coach of the women’s Olympic volleyball team Lang Ping. Yao Ming’s popularity and celebrity status, both internationally and in China, should help boost positivity for the costly mission.
China’s 2020 mission plans to send a solar-powered 200kg rover to Mars to study the atmosphere and soil of the planet. The National Space Administration has already begun its campaign to garner support from the public, welcoming submissions for the mission’s name and logo.
Yao Ming played in the NBA from 2002 till 2011 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame along with Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson in 2016.