Beijing (AFP) – China is planning to launch in July for its ambitious plans for a Mars mission to include the landing of a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the red planet, the company responsible for the project.
Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program to overtake its rival, the United States, and to affirm its status as a major world power.
The Mars mission is part of a series of new space projects that China is pursuing, including placing Chinese astronauts on the moon and building a space station by 2022.
Beijing had planned the Mars mission for some time this year, but the China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASC) has confirmed that it could take place in July.
“This major project is progressing as planned and we are planning to start in July,”
CASC is the prime contractor for China’s space program.
The Chinese mission, named “Tianwen”, will put a probe into orbit around Mars and land the robotic rover to explore and analyze the surface.
It will take several months to travel the approximately 55 million km (31 million miles) distance between Earth and Mars, which is constantly changing due to their planetary orbits.
China has already carried out a mission similar to the moon, and in January 2019 landed a small rover on the dark side of the moon’s surface that was the first nation to do so.
The United States, which has already sent four exploration vehicles to Mars, intend to launch a fifth this summer. It was supposed to arrive around February 2021.
The United Arab Emirates plan to launch the first Arabian probe from Japan to the Red Planet on July 15.