'Tianwen-1': China launches first Mars exploration mission

China launches first Mars mission
Beijing: China launched its first unmanned Mars probe on Thursday, aiming to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one mission.

The spacecraft was blasted off to Red Planet through a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island at 12:41 local time (Beijing Time).

About 36 minutes later, the spacecraft, including an orbiter and a rover, was sent into the Earth-Mars transfer orbit, embarking on an almost seven-month journey to the red planet, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

It would enter the orbit around the Mars in February.

CNSA said that China's first Mars mission is called Tianwen-1, which means “Questions to Heaven” and comes from a poem written by Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), one of the greatest poets of ancient China.

The rover will try to land on surface of the Red Planet after two or three months of entering the orbit.

The wait-and-see strategy, which was earlier successfully used by American in 1970s, will help engineers to assess the atmosphere of the planet before making any attempt.

On Monday, the first Arab space mission to Mars, an unmanned probe dubbed "Hope", blasted off from Japan, in a bid to reveal more about the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The Japanese rocket carrying the probe developed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan right on schedule at 6:58 am local time (2158 GMT Sunday).

The launch of the probe, known as "Al-Amal" in Arabic, had twice been delayed because of bad weather, but the Monday liftoff appeared smooth and successful.

Almost exactly one hour later, the feed showed people applauding in the Japanese control room as the probe successfully detached.

In Dubai, the launch was met with rapturous excitement, with the UAE Mars mission s deputy project manager Sarah Al-Amiri declaring it "an indescribable feeling" to see the probe blasting off.

"This is the future of the UAE," Amiri, who is also minister of state for advanced sciences, told Dubai TV from the launch site.