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Tianwen-1 launch set for July 23rd

China has rolled out its Long March 5 rocket and is now preparing to launch its Tianwen-1 orbiter/lander/rover to Mars this coming Thursday, July 23rd, some time between 12 am and 3 am (Eastern).

A Long March 5 rocket is set for liftoff with China’s Tianwen 1 mission some time between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m. EDT (0400-0700 GMT) Thursday, according to public notices warning ships to steer clear of downrange drop zones along the launcher’s flight path.

Chinese officials have not officially publicized the launch date. Chinese state media outlets have only reported the launch is scheduled for late July or early August, and officials have not confirmed whether the launch will be broadcast live on state television.

This will be the first operational launch of the Long March 5, which has had three previous test launches, with the first two failing. The success of the December launch, as well as the May success of the related Long March 5B, made this Mars mission possible.

After achieving orbit in February 2021 and spending two months scouting the landing site, the lander will descend to the surface, bringing the rover with it. The prime landing site is Utopia Planitia, in the northern lowland plains.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • MDN


    NASA has always shared explicit details of their landing techniques for Mars missions. Have the Chinese shared how Tienwen-1 will do this? Is there anything innovative in their planned approach?

    Launch, cruise, and orbital insertion at Mars are big challenges, but they only require technology China has already demonstrated at least cursory competence with. But landing softly on Mars is the tricky bit, so I’d like to know more about how they plan to do it.

  • MDN: In a nutshell, China has released very little information.

  • Jay

    Tianwen-1 (translated “Heavenly Questions-1”) is a knock-off of Spirit and Curiosity. Same landing profile. The orbiter will release the payload, there will be aerobraking and parachutes to slow it down. Parachutes are cut, retrorockets kick in, and finally an airbag is deployed for landing. A ramp is deployed and the rover rolls out.

  • Jay

    Sorry, I stand corrected, there is no airbag and I screwed up the names. Spirit and Opportunity, not Cusriosity, used an airbag. Here is a video of the Tianwen-1 lander tests
    My bad.

  • Captain Emeritus

    Here’s hoping it doesn’t clear the tower!

  • MDN


    Thanks for the try, and the link. I have to admit it’s an impressive test rig for a rocket powered soft lander at least. Thanks for the link.

    BTW, I have to share a link to the commercial Youtube queued up with this clip. Who knows how their algorithm picked this since I haven’t been searching for detergent lately (or ever that I recall), but it is one of the funniest I’ve seen in quite awhile. I’m sure it will appeal greatly to greeniacs : )

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