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China declares first solo Mars mission launch a success days ahead of U.S. attempt to reach the Red

China launched a major Mars mission on Thursday in what it hopes will become its first successful landing on the Red Planet. 

The mission, known as Tianwen -1 will see a rover, lander and orbiter launched aboard a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island on Thursday. It is China’s first solo mission to Mars after a previous attempt with Russia failed several years ago. 

The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation declared the launch a success and said the Tianwen-1 rover had been successfully transferred to the “predetermined orbit,” according to an official post on WeChat. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. is gearing up for a launch of NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover which is scheduled for July 30. 

China’s Tianwen-1 will arrive at its destination seven months after launch. The orbiter will orbit Mars while the rover and lander will make a journey to the surface of the Red Planet. 

Scientists from the world’s second-largest economy hope to map the geological structure of Mars, investigate the characteristics of its soil and water-ice distribution, study the surface material composition and more broadly understand the environment on the planet, according to the mission’s chief scientist. 

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