China has successfully concluded a landing test in preparation for its planned Mars mission, a significant advancement in the race to Mars.
During the trial, a probe designed to land on Mars separated from the main spacecraft at a height of 230 feet carefully descending to an altitude of just under 50 feet from the ground before stopping.
One week prior to the probe’s descent, the country’s state-owned space contractor posted on WeChat that the craft had passed a number of tests including landing, hazard avoidance, hovering and speed control factors, all essential in order to land on Mars successfully.
China’s first attempt in becoming the initial country to Mars was put on hold when in 2012 their Yinghuo-1 probe went crashing into the Pacific Ocean. The next step in Beijing’s move toward Mars will be the launch of the Long March 5, the country’s biggest carrier rocket, which was moved to the southern Hainan Province, ahead of its launch.
Lan Tianyi, Founder of Ultimate Blue Nebula Co., said in a statement, the success of this mission was “a big milestone for China’s Mars mission.” He also went onto say, “There are a lot of missions waiting for the Long March 5.”
The three main players in the race to Mars, Russia, U.S., and China, are all aiming to launch during a unique three-week window from mid-July to early August 2020 when Mars and Earth’s positions will be at the closest proximity to each other. Launching during this window will reduce travel time, therefore reducing the amount of fuel required. The mission should arrive at their destination at the beginning of 2021.
Besides China’s Mars ambitions, the country has still being making significant advancements with its presence on the Moon. In January 2019, China became the first country in the space race to land on the darkside or farside of the moon and has since germinated cotton seeds. China has announced plans to build a research base on the moon within the next ten years.