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China declares Mars mission launch a success

Wenchang: China declared the launch of its first mission to Mars a success on Thursday (July 22) in its first independent mission to another planet, in a display of its technological prowess and ambition to join an elite club of space-faring nations.

China's largest carrier rocket, the Long March 5 Y-4, blasted off with an unmanned probe at 12:41 p.m. (0441 GMT) on Thursday from Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the southern island of Hainan. Speaking several hours after the launch spokesman for the Mars mission, Liu Tongjie, said that the launch was "a complete success".

The probe is expected to reach Mars in February 2021 where it will attempt to land in Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere, and deploy a rover to explore the planet for 90 days. Since 1960, half of all the 50-plus missions to Mars including flybys failed, due to technical problems.

Asked if Tianwen-1 would present new frictions with the United States, Liu told Reuters the Chinese mission is a scientific exploration project not to compete with anyone but cooperate with each other. "From our point of view, Mars is large enough for multiple countries to explore and carry out missions," Liu said in an interview, when asked if there was a chance the Chinese rover would meet with Curiosity and InSight.

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