China finally gets to go to Mars as Long March 5B successfully launches Tianwen-1 probe/rover

by | Jul 23, 2020 | China, exploration, Launches, Satellites

China successfully launched the Tianwen-1 mission on a Long March 5B launch vehicle at 0441 GMT on 23 July. The rocket was launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, China. Tianwen-1 consists of an orbiter and a rover to study the planet Mars. The spacecraft are expected to arrive at Mars in February 2021.

Tianwen-1 mission is launched on its way to Mars by a Long March 5B (CZ-5B) rocket. Courtesy: Xinhua


While China has had significant success with its human spaceflight and Chang’e lunar probe and rover space programmes, there was one embarrassing gap: Mars. A previous attempt at launching its small Yinghuo 1 orbiter to the planet as a “hitchhiker” failed. This utilised the Russian Proton rocket-launched Phobos-Grunt mission, but was ended by a host spacecraft-related launch failure in late 2011.

The embarrassment was exacerbated that its regional competitor India had managed to join the previous superpowers the USA and Russia with its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which was launched in late 2013.

Worst of all, it has just beaten to the punch by the United Arab Emirates whose Hope orbiter mission to the planet was launched just a few days before on 19 July. In other words, China will now be the fifth space nation to reach Mars rather than its hoped for fourth.

Nevertheless, it has to be realised that the Chinese Tianwen-1 is a much superior mission to Hope, which only involves an orbiting probe spacecraft. The Chinese mission also includes the landing of a Mars rover. To date, only the USA has successfully managed to land a rover on the planet. Russia has had several failures. It did manage to land a exploratory landing craft Mars 03 on the planet in 1971 but it only worked for 20 seconds before telemetry was cut.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned Seradata database. Trusted by over 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, Seradata is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Falcon 9 makes two launches on 17 March: for Starlink Group 2-8 and SES-18 and SES-19 respectively…but recently launched Starlink Group 6-1 appears to be sinking

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg, California, USA at 1926 GMT on 17 March 2023. The vehicle was Read more

Chinese Long March 3B/E launches earth observation satellite into orbit

China successfully launched a Chinese Long March 3B/E rocket carrying the a new geostationary Earth observation satellite, Gaofen-13 02. The Read more

Astranis gets two GEO sat order from Mexico’s Apco Networks

The spacecraft manufacturer Astranis received a construction order from the Mexican telecommunications firm Apco Networks for a pair of small Read more

Rocket Lab successfully deploys two Capella Space radar satellites after Electron launch

Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket and deployed two Capella Space radar imaging satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO). Read more

NASA uses CLPS programme to contract lunar ride for Firefly’s Blue Ghost 2 lunar lander and ESA’s Lunar Pathfinder comms relay spacecraft

Firefly Aerospace has been awarded a second CLPS transportation order to the Moon, this time for the Blue Ghost 2 Read more

NASA unveils new spacesuits for Artemis astronauts moon landing

A new style, for a new space era - that's the message NASA wants to send with the unveiling of Read more

With its cash about to run out Virgin Orbit suspends operations and lays off staff

While it has been expected for a while, CNBC broke the story that Virgin Orbit has taken the decision to Read more

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches Dragon CRS-27 spacecraft to deliver cargo, cubesats and experiments to ISS (Updated)

A Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 successfully launched the Dragon CRS-27 cargo craft on its International Space Station (ISS) resupply flight Read more