China is on a roll in space. This month, it became the third nation after the United States and Soviet Russia to land a rover on Mars . This follows a series of successful missions over the past four years. The significance of the moment was marked by congratulatory messages from President Xi Jinping – who highlighted the role of China as a hi-tech powerhouse in contributing to the progress and peace of humankind – as well as from the European Space Agency and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of Nasa, tweeted: “Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to understanding of the Red Planet.” That’s a rare compliment from a senior US official nowadays. Perhaps there is still hope for cooperation at a time of growing rivalry. The rover Zhu Rong has landed in Utopia Planitia, a region in the northern hemisphere of the Red Planet. It is now a neighbour to the Nasa’s Perseverance rover, which arrived in February and is several hundred kilometres away, while the US Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars since 2012. Primed to detect the possible existence of a permafrost in Utopia Planitia, Zhu Rong is also a breakthrough for Hong Kong , as it carries a surveillance camera designed and built by a team at Polytechnic University, which also helped design equipment for China’s lunar mission last year. What is China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission? The Mars landing is the latest in a series of bold undertakings by the nation. In January 2019, China became the first country to land on the far side of the moon , and another mission, in December last year, also brought back lunar samples. It has already completed the Beidou satellite network to rival the US Global Positioning System and finished building the world’s largest filled-aperture radio telescope. And it has begun constructing a permanent space station. China and Russia have also partnered with a plan to build an International Lunar Research Station on the moon from 2026. New scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs are coming in fast. So far, Chinese authorities have been exemplary in sharing findings, in sharp contrast to the Americans, who have banned Chinese participation in the International Space Station. But the ISS is near the end of its life cycle. There is a possibility that by the decade’s end, China will operate the only orbital station in space. China has already shared its latest lunar samples and analyses with foreign scientists. It has also said it welcomes international participation in its space station and lunar station, once completed. If space is the final frontier, international collaboration and cooperation should be the way forward, not competition that will turn space into another dangerous arena of superpower rivalry.