China plans to launch Mars rover in July

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China plans to launch a rocket in July that will take a probe to Mars. From the probe, a remote-controlled robot will land on the red planet. It is China’s first mission to Mars.

China’s Mars mission is known as Tianwen-1. The country has been working on it since 2009. Space agency China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation has announced that the launch will take place in July, according to AFP news agency.

The probe and rover are to be brought to Mars aboard a Long March 5B rocket. That rocket was successfully launched for the first time earlier this month. The 55 million kilometer journey will take several months. An exact date is not yet known, but it is probably the second half of July. During this period, NASA also plans to launch its new Mars rover Perseverance. That launch is scheduled for sometime between July 17 and August 5.

The Mars mission is one of China’s space projects that aims to rejoin the country in the space race with other superpowers. China also plans to land taikonauts, the Chinese name for astronauts, on the moon and aims to have a space station in orbit by 2022. At the beginning of 2019, China already managed to land a rover on the far side of the moon. Earlier this month, China tested a reusable capsule for flights with taikonauts.

Mock-up of Chinese Mars rover. Image via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

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