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China moves its Tianwen-1 Mars mission into Long March-5 rocket, slated for 23 July launch – Firstpost


China is gearing up to launch its first rover to Mars on a mission to gather scientific data on 23 July.

It has placed a rocket named Long March-5 carrier into position to lift off the rover from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southern island province of Hainan, reported the Associated Press.

The rocket is slated to blast off in late July (tentatively 23 July) but certainly by early August, since China will try to make good use of its one-month window to launch. This is when the Red planet and Earth are in an ideal alignment – on the same side of the Sun, to minimise travel time and fuel use.

The first mission to Mars from China is dubbed Tianwen-1 and includes an orbiting spacecraft, a lander and a rover, according to CNet.

Space agencies get such a window only once every 26 months, the AP report adds.

The Long March-5 carrier is China’s heaviest-lift launch vehicle and has never been used with a payload. However, the rocket has been used experimentally three times.

 China moves its Tianwen-1 Mars mission into Long March-5 rocket, slated for 23 July launch

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, China’s new large carrier rocket Long March-5B blasts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan Province, May 5, 2020. The Long March-5B made its maiden flight on Tuesday, sending the trial version of China’s new-generation manned spaceship and a cargo return capsule for test into space. Image credit: Guo Cheng/Xinhua via AP

“Tianwen-1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter. No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way,” reported the tech website quoting the mission’s chief scientist.

The Tianwen-1 mission aims to create a geological map of the Red Planet and examine the characteristics of the Martian soil. It will explore the Martian atmosphere and climate at the surface, besides understanding the electromagnetic and gravitational fields of the planet.

According to Space.com, the spacecraft awaits final tests to be conducted by engineers before launch. It also reported quoting Li Benqi, command member for the Long March-5 launch mission, that testing for all technical items on the rock has been done.

“While the rocket is at the launching area, our preparations are focused on filling fuel into the rocket and ensuring a good final state of the rocket and the rover. Then we’ll enter the launching procedures,” he said.

Apart from China, the US and the United Arab Emirates are also vying to contribute to Mars science by 2021. The UAE successfully launched its Mars Orbiter Hope (Al Amal) on 20 July from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan.

The US, too, is going to blast off its Perseverance Mars rover to the Red Planet – tentatively on 30 July.

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