China launches Taiwan-1, an independent Mars mission

Today, China launched a rover to Mars. The journey of this possesses similarity with the US mission as power take their rivalry into deep space. 

The USA and China both are in trend these days for their on-going rivalry. The USA has scheduled its spacecraft liftoff on the 30th of July and how could China keep its foot back in the race. So to show the ability of competitiveness it launched a probe to Mars. Both countries are taking good advantage of this period when Mars and earth are favorably aligned for a comparative shorter journey than usual.

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It seems as if Red Planet has become a favorite destination for interplanetary travel these days. At the beginning of this week (Monday), the United Arab Emirates launched its Mission HOPE to orbit Mars. So it is going to be a crowded field where Hope will get a Chinese companion and later on those two will be joined by an American stranger. But apart from all comic talks, the race between China and the United States of America will be worth watching because China has worked furiously to try and match Washington‘s ascendancy in space.

The race to Mars!!

The state of China’s mission

The Chinese mission is named as Taiwan-1 (which means Questions to Heaven) was inspired by a classical poem that verses about the cosmos. It is expected to arrive in February month of 2021 after a long journey of 7 months traveling a distance of 55 million km or 34 million miles. It was launched on Long March 5 rocket from the southern island of Hainan. It is the country’s biggest space rocket. The success of its launch is yet not confirmed by the Chinese authorities.  

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A Mars orbiter, a lander, and a rover ~ are included in the mission which will study the soil of the Planet. An astronomer at the Harward Smithson Centre for Astrophysics, Mr. Jonathan McDowell said that “As a first Try for China, I don’t expect it to do anything significant beyond what the US has already done.”

Since the late 1990s, the US has already sent 4 rovers to the Red Planet. Perseverance, which is the next one is an SUV-sized vehicle. Its goals are:

  • Search for the signs of ancient microbial life
  • gather soil and rock samples for bringing them to the Earth on another mission in the year 2031. 
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Mr. Jonathan said that this Chinese Mission holds similarity with NASA‘s Viking missions which were pulled out between the years of 1975 to 1976 and in that it had both – an orbiter and a lander. His quoted words were “Taiwan-1 is broadly comparable to Viking in its scope and ambition.”  

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The intention to overtake!

China has poured a lot of money into its military-led space program after seeing the Soviet Union and the US lead the way during the Cold WarAn independent analyst, Chen Lan said that “China joining the Mars race will change the situation dominated by the US for half a century.” The country has made a huge decisive step in the year 2003 by sending a human into space.

For gaining a permanent foothold on Earth’s orbit and assembling a space station by the year 2022, the groundwork has been laid by the Asian powerhouse. 2 rovers have already been sent by China to the Moon. China became the first nation to achieve a successful soft landing on the spatial side with the help of its second rover. Earlier, a mission in the year 2011 with Russia ended prematurely because the clause failed hence Taiwan-1 is not the first attempt by China to reach Mars.

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Chen Lan said that “As long as Taiwan safely lands on the Martian surface and sends back the first image, the mission will….. be a big success.”

{Source: AFP news agency and Khaleej Times}

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