The company in charge of the project said that China’s ambitious plan to launch a Mars mission in July includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the red planet.
Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program to catch up with its rival, the United States, and confirm its status as a major power in the world.
The Mars mission is one of a series of new space projects that China is pursuing, including sending Chinese astronauts to the moon and establishing a space station by 2022.
Beijing has already planned a mission to Mars sometime this year, but the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has confirmed that it may be carried out as early as July.
CASC said in a statement released on Sunday: “This big project is proceeding as planned, and our goal is to start in July.”
CASC is the main contractor of China’s space program.
The Chinese mission called “astronomy” will probe the orbit around Mars and land a robotic rover to explore and analyze the surface.
The distance of approximately 55 million kilometers (31 million miles) from Earth and Mars will take several months, and this distance is constantly changing due to the planet’s orbit.
China has already performed a similar mission to the moon and landed a small rover on the dark side of the moon in January 2019, becoming the first country to do so.
The United States has sent four rover to Mars and intends to launch a fifth one this summer. It should arrive around February 2021.
The United Arab Emirates plans to conduct the first Arab exploration of the Red Planet from Japan on July 15.
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