China launched Mars mission
China has launched a rocket to Mars for the first time. Tianwen-1 was launched into space from Hainan Island in the South China Sea. The spacecraft should reach Mars in seven months.
For a long time it was unclear when China wanted to launch the mission. While space organizations from other countries will announce their plans and invite the media well in advance, Chinese space missions will only be announced shortly before launch or even afterwards. Yesterday photos of the launch pad suggested the launch was imminent.
It is the second mission to Mars that has started this week: Monday, the United Arab Emirates launched a satellite from Japan to the planet. Sometime between July 30 and August 15, NASA expects to launch a missile. All three missions are due to arrive around February 2021.
The Marslander of China has been given the name ‘Questions to Heaven’, a reference to an ancient Chinese poem. Once on the red planet, the Mars rover will search for water and traces of life.
China has developed an ambitious space program. In recent years, the country has already had some great successes with unmanned scouts. Last year, Chang’e 4 was the first to land on the far side of the moon. Chang’e 5 is to bring a scoop of lunar soil to Earth this year.
In 2011, China and Russia attempted to orbit a satellite around Mars, but failed. Kot after the launch went wrong.
In about ten years, China also wants to let Chinese land on the moon. Before then, Chinese astronauts will man a new space station whose first module Tianhe (‘harmony of the heavens’) will be launched next year.