Launch update on Mars missions

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

The launch status of the three missions to Mars:

First, the launch of UAE’s Hope orbiter by Mitsubishi’s H-2A rocket has been pushed back to July 20th due to bad weather. Their launch window extends to August 3rd, so they still have two weeks before it closes.

Second, China has rolled to the launchpad the Long March 5 rocket, with the Tienwen-1 orbiter/lander/rover. Though they have only said that the launch will occur between July 20th and July 25th, based on past operations, they usually launch six days after roll-out, putting the launch date as July 23.

China has also provided some clarity as to Tienwen-1’s landing site on Mars. According to this Nature Astronomy paper [pdf], published on July 13th, their primary landing site is in the northern lowland plains of Utopia Planitia. The Tienwen-1 science team has also considered [pdf] the northern lowland plains in Chryse Planitia, on the other side of Mars.

Since they will spend two to three months in Mars orbit before sending the lander and rover to the surface, it could very well be that they won’t make a final decision until they get into orbit.

Finally, on July 7th Perseverance was mounted on top of its Atlas-5 rocket for its July 30th launch. Its launch window closes on August 15.


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  • V-Man

    Mars is notorious for eating space probes — something like half the missions to there have failed, if I recall?

    Hopefully, all three make it.

  • Jay

    You are correct, more than half of all the missions to Mars have failed. NASA’s record is better with 21 successes and only six failures. But if you look back in history, there is a higher failure rate on getting probes to the Moon. We learn from all the missions and that success rate to the red planet will increase over time.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I had overlooked the fact that there is apparently no EU probe to Mars this opposition. Anyone know why?

  • Ray Van Dune: You are recent reader. Do a search on BtB for “Rosalind Franklin” or “ExoMars”. It will answer your question.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Ah, now I recall reading those stories about the delay! I just didn’t occur to me to search! Thanks!

  • LocalFluff

    @Ray Van Dune
    ESA, not EU. Different organizations, although mostly the same countries.

    No, the Exo-Mars rover will not launch this time, because of parachute problems. JPL tried to help them in the last minute, but they want to get their salaries for two more years while doing nothing. (How the heck can’t they get a parachute to work! daVinci designed them 500 years ago and the first girl used one in the 18th century, NASA pretty much perfected the art 50 years ago, and still they can’t use them!)

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