The Associated PressSeptember 14, 2020 10:18:17 AM
China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1, which was blown into space in July, is now more than 15 million kilometers from Earth on its way to the red planet, the National Space Agency said on Saturday.
The government said Tianwen-1
However, the government has not yet released any information about a mysterious reusable experimental spaceship that returned to Earth a week ago after a two-day flight.
The spaceship consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover and marks China’s most ambitious mission to Mars to date, to successfully land a spaceship on the planet together with the United States. It was blown into space aboard a Long March-5 in a month on July 23, when the United Arab Emirates and US also took advantage of a shortened distance between planets to launch similar missions.
China said the reusable spacecraft returned to its designated landing site last Sunday and called the flight a breakthrough that will eventually allow convenient round-trip transportation to space at a low cost. No further details about the spacecraft’s mission or configuration have been released.
This is also seen as an attempt to put China at the forefront of space travel. The US has operated the mysterious X-37B spaceplane for years, which has remained in orbit for months.
China’s military-backed space program has grown rapidly since 2003, when it was only the third country after Russia and the United States to take a man into space. Last year, China’s Chang’e-4 became the country’s first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon.
The program has also suffered the occasional setback. Jiuquan’s Northwest Satellite Launch Center reported that an optical satellite launched on Saturday lunchtime was unable to enter its preset orbit after anomalies were observed during the flight of its launcher.