China celebrates Space Day and announces Mars mission

World Today

China releases high-resolution photos of lunar surface taken by Chang’e 3 lunar probe & Yutu roverChina releases high-resolution photos of lunar surface taken by Chang’e 3 lunar probe & Yutu rover

Sunday marks China’s first-ever “Space Day.” It’s also the 46th anniversary of the successful launch of the country’s first satellite, ‘Dong Fang Hong’ or ‘The East is Red.’ 

Chinese Astronauts celebrated the day in the training center. China’s space tracking ship Yuanwang-6 was open to the public.

46 years ago, China launched its first man-made satellite and the government named the day the space day for China.  46 years later, China has revealed its ambitious Mars exploring plan and prepare to build its own space station.

And, in the lead-up to Space Day, CCTV’s Ning Hong, went to take a look at one of China’s major space projects: its new generation of launch vehicles.

China will launch its Mars mission probe around 2020, aiming to reach the planet when the Communist Party of China marks its centenary in 2021, the country’s National Space Administration announced on Friday.

The exploration of Mars has significance for understanding the evolution of the universe, the structure of matter, and the origin of life, according to Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of the first Mars exploration mission. But he also stressed the difficulties to achieve the goal.

“A total of 43 Mars missions have been launched throughout the world so far. The most recent one happened on March 14. It is a joint mission collaborated by the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency. It’s just been launched and it is still on its way to the Mars. There were only 22 successful launches. So the rate of success and failure was about 50-50,” said Zhang.

China had set plans in 2007 and 2010 to launch Mars missions in 2011 and 2015, respectively, but both goals were never achieved for various reasons.

For now, China is planning to launch its Mars probe in the launch window of 2020, said Zhang, adding that the favorable alignment of Earth and Mars occurs for only a few weeks every 26 months and 2020 will be a window for the launch.

The spacecraft ,which will be put into space by the new-generation Long March-5 heavy-lift rocket, is being developed by the China Academy of Space Technology. It is expected to orbit the Mars, land and deploy a rover all in one mission, the first of its kind in aerospace history if achieved.

“Such a big plan to achieve orbiting, landing and rover deploying in one mission will make a legend. Only by completing this Mars probe mission can China say it has embarked on the exploration of deep space in the true sense,” said Zhang.

In the second step of China’s Mars probe mission, the spacecraft will carry back samples of Mars surface, an action that never has been achieved by any country. Zhang said this will help people gain fresh and deeper insight into Mars.

Story by CCTV News