China launches ambitious Tianwen-1 Mars rover mission | Space
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China’s first fully homegrown Mars mission is on its way to the Red Planet.
The Tianwen-1 mission launched atop a Long March 5 rocket from Hainan Island’s Wenchang Satellite Launch Center this morning (July 23) at 12:41 a.m. EDT (0441 GMT).
Tianwen-1 consists of an orbiter and a lander/rover duo, a combination of craft that had never before launched together toward the Red Planet. The ambition of Tianwen-1 is especially striking given that it’s China’s first stab at a full-on Mars mission. (The nation did launch a Red Planet orbiter called Yinghuo-1 in November 2011, but the spacecraft flew piggyback with Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission. And that launch failed, leaving the probes trapped in Earth orbit.)