"A powerful Long March 5 rocket blasted off Thursday carrying a Chinese orbiter, lander and rover on a seven-month voyage to Mars, the second of three high-stakes missions to the red planet and one that, if successful, will put China on the front lines of interplanetary exploration.
China did not announce the launch date or time in advance, but a notice to mariners warned of an impending flight and sure enough, the Long March 5 roared to life and streaked away from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island southwest of Hong Kong at 12:41 a.m. EDT (12:41 p.m. local time)." CBS News
"The orbiter is equipped with seven instruments, including high- and medium-resolution cameras; a ground-penetrating radar; a mineralogy spectrometer; a magnetometer; and two charged particle detectors. Its planned orbit around the Martian poles will carry it within about 165 miles of the surface and as far away as 7,450 miles.
After mapping the world below for several months, the orbiter will release a landing craft that will descend to a rocket-powered touchdown on a broad, 2,000-mile-wide plain known as Utopia Planitia, the same general region where NASA's Viking 1 lander touched down in 1976." CBS News
"The 530-pound six-wheel rover will ride down atop the lander and then roll off extendable ramps to the surface. The rover is equipped with six instruments, including a multi-spectral camera, a terrain camera, a ground-penetrating radar, magnetic field detector, meteorology sensors and others.
The rover is designed to receive commands and beam back data to Earth using the Tianwen-1 orbiter as a relay station.
"A successful landing would put China among elite company," Mason Peck, an aerospace engineer at Cornell University, told the journal Science." CBS News
The scale of this mission and its complexity really are a "Long March." If the Chinese can make all these functions work they will deserve to be thought of as a serious competitor for the US in space exploration. I wish them luck. pl
That Hainan launch site is about ten degrees of latitude closer to the equator than Cape Canaveral. That gives them a big payload advantage over the US. Of course they have some logistics problems being that it is on an island and they have to ship the launch vehicle and engines and such by ship.
Which is the reason why we never put a launch site closer to the equator on Puerto Rico, or in the Marshall Islands. Or on Christmas Island like Werner von Braun wanted to do 70 years ago.
I am feeling a bit playful today, Colonel, so in that spirit I will pose a question: I notice you did not specify which type of “luck”, good or bad, you wished the Chinese.
For myself, I wish them that their lunar rover does a nice rollover as it rolls down the exit ramps. It would do me a lot of good to see that thing belly up, waving its antennae like a dead bug!
And the question I forgot to ask was of course: which kind of luck do you wish them?
The rover is the most interesting part. Right now, the US has a monopoly on the tech involved in controlling a rover over these vast distances and they have not been sharing with anyone.
ESA and the Russian are right now working together on a lunar rover project to see if they can figure out how it is done.
It is interesting that the Chinese government didn’t make this an exciting national event but kept the launch a secret instead. No televising the lift-off for them. How sad.
Are they sharing any of their space exploration data? I remember now hearing about them going to the far side of the Moon but I don’t remember hearing what they found there.
Jersey Joan; They did televise the liftoff. Perhaps not in English, but why would they? And they advertised six months ago that they would launch in July. No secrets about this launch. They’ve been talking up their Mars mission for at least the last four years.
What I’m more concerned with is the Chinese PLA’s ability to wage system destruction warfare
Systems Confrontation and System Destruction Warfare
How the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Seeks to Wage Modern Warfare
by Jeffrey Engstrom
Joint Chiefs of Staff
(U//FOUO) Joint Staff Briefing Paper on China’s “System Attack” Concept of Warfare
July 18, 2019