Taking a look at its achievements over the previous decade, no person would doubt China is aiming to win the brand new area race. Not solely has it been the one nation to land on the Moon in about 40 years, and the primary to soft-land on its far aspect, it has additionally planted a flag on lunar soil and introduced samples again to Earth.

The race between a number of nations and personal corporations, nonetheless, is much from over. China is now approaching Mars with its Tianwen-1 mission, as a consequence of arrive on February 10. A profitable insertion into orbit – the rover received’t land till Could — will mark one other essential milestone for a couple of purpose.

Mars could also be near Earth, however it’s a difficult goal. Nothing demonstrates this higher than the figures. Out of 49 missions as much as December 2020, solely about 20 have been profitable. Not all these failures had been makes an attempt by newbies or early endeavors. In 2016, The European House Company’s Schiaparelli Mars Explorer crashed on the floor. Additionally, ongoing technical points have pressured ESA and its Russian accomplice Roscosmos to postpone its subsequent mission, ExoMars, till 2022.

China will not be the one nation nearing Mars. On February 9, a UAE probe, Hope, will try the identical insertion maneuver. It’s not a direct competitor to the Chinese language mission (the probe will simply orbit the planet to review the martian climate), however (NASA’s Perseverance rover), set to reach per week later, definitively is.

To additional elevate the stakes for China, among the many handful of nations which have managed the notoriously difficult insertion maneuver into orbit, there’s one Asian nation there already: India, China’s direct competitor in area however on Earth as effectively.

Artist's concept of Mangalayaan.