June 9, 2023

China on Thursday independently launched the first Mars mission. This is a milestone for a country with ambitions to build a space station by 2022. Launched as Tianwen-1, China has joined the club, which includes the US, Europe, Russia and India and the UAE. 

China launched the first Mars vehicle named Yinghuo-1 in 2011, but it failed. On Thursday, Chinese official media reported that the 5-ton spacecraft Tianwen-1 was launched via the country’s largest launch vehicle March-5 rocket at 12:41 pm from Wenshang spacecraft in Hainan province.

“After 36 minutes the spacecraft, which has an orbiter and a rover, was transferred to Earth-Mars Transfer Orbit,” Xinhua quoted the China National Space Administration (CNSA) as saying. This mission will be completed in about 7 months.

Tianwen is a Mandarin word, meaning- Question from heaven, it is derived from the poem of Qi Yuan, a great poet of ancient China (340-287 B.C.). CNSA said, “This name signifies the persistence of the Chinese nation in advancing truth, science, and the exploration of nature and the universe.”

An expert associated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences told Xinhua that Mars Rover would work for about 90 Mars days on the Red Planet, which is more than three months on Earth. Here Rover will conduct a variety of investigations. The mission aims to explore the surface structure and environment along with the discovery of ice on the surface of Mars.