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Tianwen-1 successfully launched, on its way to Mars

UPDATE: According to news reports, China tonight successfully launched Tianwen-1 towards Mars, with arrival expected in February 2021.

Below the fold is a live stream of the launch of the Long March 5 rocket. It is not in English, and since it was not linked to China’s mission control, it only covers the first two minutes or so, after which the rocket went out of sight.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

17 China
11 SpaceX
7 Russia
3 Japan

The U.S. still leads China 18 to 17 in the national rankings.

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.


  • LocalFluff

    Why will it spend 2-3 months in Mars’ orbit surveying for a landing site? They don’t know where they want to go? Do they think that the existing Mars maps are fake or something? And will their surveys compare to that of MRO’s 50 cm telescope? Anyway, strange news are to be expected from that regime.

  • David

    Perhaps they want to have lots of good “before” pictures to compare to the “after” pictures so they can identify whatever wreckage the famous Martian anti-lander defenses generate.

  • Captain Emeritus

    Is there any proof it got out of the atmosphere?

  • Captain Emeritus: They have confirmed that it completed the engine firing that put it into a solar orbit taking it to Mars, as well as the upper stage separation. If something else happened we would know, even if they denied it.

  • wayne

    The Expanse
    Pre-emptive rail-gun attack on Mars

  • Jay

    Captain Emeritus,
    Yep, it is up there. I was watching two uncensored live feeds, a twitter feed, and a forum last night during the launch. Some of the feeds I was watching were shut down due to the CCP going after Youtube. It was funny, one of the feeds was saying it blew up, but I believe they mistaken the booster separation for that.

    After SECO and when the probe separated, CCTV reported success and started to put videos out. Here is a highlight video of the launch:

    Why the interest? I have always been a fan of space and I track satellites. I became fascinated with the Chinese space program over 20 years ago when I heard about “Project 921”, their manned space program. Some sources said they were doing lift-body tests of spacecraft, with rumors of a mini-shuttle, but the program which became Shenzhou was a modified Soyuz. I have watched this Tianwen-1 project with interest, since it looks so close to our rovers.

  • Captainemeritus

    Thanks Mr. Zimmerman,
    I’m just feeling a bit snarky, lately.

  • Captain Emeritus

    I watched the same video feeds early this morning as well. (eastern time)
    I have watched the chinese communists closely, since the Clinton administration sold them guidance technology (from Litton Industries) to steer their big, dumb rockets with far greater accuracy than they could ever achieve on their own.
    In my opinion, that was a treasonous act, that put my country in grave danger (still to this day)
    The chinese communists are a very dangerous virus that infects the entire planet.
    Never to be trusted, or believed.
    If “they” say it all worked and it’s on the way to Mars, I’ll have to wait till my government confirms it.
    But, the main issue is, as long as we can buy their cheap junk from Walmart and others, what the heck, eh?

  • Jay

    Captain Emeritus,
    I agree with you on all your points, especially the technology transfer.

    Don’t forget Harbor Freight and Tool! This morning I bought Tianwen-2 there for $50 with the 50% coupon and a free multi-meter!

  • LocalFluff

    Would you have a look at what’s going on with the Three Gorges Dam? It is kinda related to some of your Mars image comments and it could become the news of the year (in tough competition).

    I don’t know much at all about geology and hydrology, but I’ve seen the before and after satellite photos of how the dam has deformed. It doesn’t look good… I’ve heard that there have been 90 land slides into the uprivers of the dam since completion, as the changing water level destabilizes the river banks. And the pressure of the water has increased seismic activity. Even some Chinese officials seem to say now that the dam is leaking and moving. Aren’t those two bad words for dams?

    Didn’t another dam collapse kill 100,000+ people in 1975?
    “- Hey, let’s do that dam(age) thing again!”

  • wayne

    Captain Emeritus–
    Let us never forget, the chi-coms (with a little help from the Usual Suspects, their democrat-party pals) stole the complete designs for our W-88 Warhead.
    (I would put forth the proposition, the only good Chinese-communist, is a dead Chinese-communist.)

    “It will be all over, in 40 minutes”

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