China said Mars probe stable; No word on reusable spacecraft

In this July 23, 2020, file photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a long March-5 rocket carrying the Tianwen-1 Mars probe moves away from the Wenchang space launch center in southern China’s Hainan province. China’s Mars probe exploded into space in July, Tianwen-1, now more than 15 million kilometers (9 million miles) from Earth to the Red Planet, the National Space Administration said on Saturday, September 12, 2020. (Yang / Xinhua via Ca. AP)

The National Space Administration said on Saturday that China’s Mars probe to Tianwen-1, which exploded into space in July, is now 15 million kilometers (9 million miles) higher than the Earth’s path.

The administration said Tianwen-1 was in stable condition, having completed its first mid-course orbital reform at the beginning of last month. It will be about 195 million kilometers (118 million miles) from Earth when it arrives on Mars around February, traveling 470 million kilometers (292 million miles) in all to get there.

The administration, however, is yet to release information about a mysterious reusable experimental spacecraft that returned to Earth a week earlier after a two-day flight.

The spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, and marks China’s most ambitious Mars mission, as it seeks to join the United States successfully landing a spacecraft on the planet. The United Arab Emirates and the US also took advantage of a short distance between the planets to undertake similar missions when a space exploded on 23 March on Long March-5 during a month.

China said the reusable spacecraft returned to its scheduled landing site last Sunday, calling the flight a success that would eventually provide convenient round-trip transportation to space at a low cost. No other details on the mission or configuration of the spacecraft have been released.

It is also seen as an attempt to put China at the leading end of space flight. The US has been operating a secret X-37B space plane for years that has been in orbit for months.

China’s military-backed space program has developed rapidly as it became only the third country to bring a man to space in 2003 after Russia and the US. Last year, China’s Chang’a-4 became the first spacecraft to land in space far away from the moon.

China’s first reusable spacecraft lands after 2-day flight

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