China launches space rocket in ambitious Mars landing mission

China launches space rocket in ambitious Mars landing mission

China launches space rocket in ambitious Mars landing mission

Tianwen-1 is just one of the three missions to Mars this year. However, China National Space Administration (CNSA), the national space agency, are yet to confirm it has reached its intended orbit and is on its way to the red planet. NASAs virtual launch experience for Mars 2020 Perseverance rover includes: a behind-the-scenes look at the mission; augmented reality filters; access to an engaging NASA social community; an invitation to submit videos to be part of the televised launch broadcast; tool kits for student; a chance to take a souvenir photo in our Mars Photo Booth; and the opportunity to send your name to Mars!

The spacecraft is expected to take between six and seven months to reach Mars, according to state media. If China's landing is successful, it will have pulled off a feat that only NASA has mastered, elevating the nation into an elite tier of the global space community.

There's still one more mission to Mars yet to go before this year's close approach (the time when Earth and Mars are closest to each other in their relative solar orbits) ends: NASA's Perserverance Mars rover launch. But that means a lot of countries have scheduled their Mars launches for this summer, with the UAE launching its first mission to the red planet this past weekend, and NASA planning to launch its latest Mars rover, dubbed Perseverance, sometime by early August.

The spacecraft was launched using China's largest carrier rocket, Long March-5, and weighed (including fuel) around 5 tonnes. During that attempt, a Chinese orbiter accompanying a Russian mission was lost when the spacecraft failed to get out of Earth's orbit after launching from Kazakhstan.

A lander for China's Mars mission is seen before a hovering-and-obstacle avoidance test at a test facility in Huailai, Hebei province, China November 14, 2019. Some authorities, like Dr. Sumner, say that the presence of the gas on Mars is "not a surprise" since it has all the geological processes it desires to generate the gas without the need of lifestyle. Only the USA has successfully landed a spacecraft on Martian soil, doing it eight times since 1976.

China's secretive space programme has developed rapidly in recent decades. In 2003, Yang Liwei became the first Chinese astronaut and, last year, Chang'e-4 was the first spacecraft to land on the side of the moon not visible from Earth. But given Musk's recent closeness to China, it's unclear if he'd ever consider launching from that country instead of the USA, something that would be a huge blow to American prestige in space.

The mission has been called the starting pistol in the race with the United States to land humans on the Red Planet.

"Tianwen-1 is heading to orbit, land and release a rover all on the pretty first check out, and coordinate observations with an orbiter", mission professionals wrote in the journal Nature Astronomy. The mission is expected to launch between July 20 and 25.

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