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Tianwen-1, China’s first Mars mission, will be launched with the help of the country’s homemade Long March 5 rocket. (Tu Haichao/Xinhua)

China’s Mars mission will go ahead in July as planned

The Tianwen-1 Mars mission will make China the third country to land on the red planet after the US and Soviet Union

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
China is going ahead with its first mission to Mars with a launch planned for July this year, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed on Sunday. If successful, the Tianwen-1 mission will make China the third country to land on the red planet after the United States and the Soviet Union.
CASC is the main contractor for the Chinese space program and has been working on the project since 2016. The mission has several tasks, including orbiting and landing on Mars and exploring the planet. Tianwen-1 will carry 13 payloads, consisting of seven orbiters and six rovers, director of CASC’s Science and Technology Commission Bao Weimin said during China’s annual political meeting known as the  Two Sessions.
The country’s first attempt to reach Mars in 2012 flopped when the Yinghuo-1 Mars probe disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean. Zhao Xiaojin, Party chief of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), said that Mars exploration is an important sign of the country’s space power, shortening the gap between China and other countries. NASA is also expected to launch its Mars 2020 mission in July, but Europe and Russia's ExoMars mission originally planned for this year has been delayed until 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The UAE is planning to reach the planet next year.