The space race continues as China successfully launched its Tianwen-1 mission to Mars.
The launch happened in the early hours of Thursday, 23 July, which will transport and land a rover onto the red planet by February 2021, should everything go to plan.
Tianwen-1 is on its way, transporting a Martian orbiter, lander, and rover. Just this month China is the second nation to head to Mars, as the UAE's Hope mission successfully launched on July 19th and is also making its way to the Red Planet.
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China's first interplanetary mission to Mars
The launch took off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in China and carried the nation's largest launch vehicle so far, the Long March Rocket 5 into space, as per the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
Once the spacecraft lands successfully on Mars, the plan is for its orbiter, lander, and rover to carry out scientific explorations and survey the planet's geology and figure out what's lying beneath its red surface.
China sends its first mission to Mars. Tianwen-1 was launched from Wenchang towards the red planet on a voyage that will last until next year. #Marspic.twitter.com/9PmlzHCoEe— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) July 23, 2020
The three technologies will be working together from different locations around Mars. The orbiter will relay information from above, while the rover and lander will work together on the planet, digging beneath its surface.
This will mark the first time that this trio combination is sent up to Mars at once.
As per the Verge, if successful, this would mark only the second time that a robotic mission lands safely on the Red Planet. So far, only the U.S.'s NASA team has managed to do so. If all goes to plan, this mission would mark a great accomplishment for Chinese space exploration.
As mentioned above, the UAE's Hope mission is already underway to reach Mars, also by February next year, and next up will be NASA with its upcoming July 30th launch.