While NASA is preparing to send its Mars 2020 rover to explore the red planet, China also announced its plan to launch its first Mars mission probe in July this year. Xinhua cited a report by the China Youth Daily claiming that the Mars probe of China will be launched in July onboard the Long March-5 Y4 carrier rocket.
The newspaper also said that this is the first time China has disclosed the launch month of its Mars exploration program. As per the report, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed that the country will send a probe to orbit and land and deploy a rover on Mars.
Xinhua reported that the Long March-5 Y4 rocket recently completed a 100-second test for its high thrust hydrogen-oxygen engine. The test is the last engine examination before the final assembly.
For the year 2020, the Long March-5 rocket of China has several missions scheduled ahead, which includes the Mars probe launch and the lunar sample return. As per the report, a total of 24 high thrust hydrogen-oxygen rocket engine tests will be conducted this year for these missions.
Last year in November, China simulated the process of a probe hovering, avoiding obstacles and descending to land on Mars. Xinhua reported that the experiment was held on a trial ground, which is the largest one in Asia for test landing on extraterrestrial bodies, in Huailai county, Hebei province.
The biggest challenge for the mission is to safely land on Mars. China’s experiment simulated the gravity of Mars, about one-third of the gravity on Earth, to test the design of the lander.