China is working on its independent space mission to Mars.
This year is clearly the most ambitious time for Chinese space mission. There will neearly be 40 launches to orbit, tests of its future manned capsule, tests of reusable launchers technology, a mission to the Moon, the first module of their station in low orbit and the first independent Martian mission.
After a trauma in 2011 and the failure of the Russian Fobos-Grunt mission which got the small Yinghuo-1 probe lost, the Chinese agency retries the experiment alone, with a triple mission: a vehicle in orbit, a lander and a small six-wheeled robot.
This mission named Huoxing-1, will already aim to demonstrate that China is capable of operating such a complex system several tens of millions of kilometers away from the Earth. But the rockets will also carry scientific instruments in order to search for traces of present and past life, as well as to study the evolution of the Martian environment and its surface.
The teams put all the assets on their side: the little robot is already complete (it is based on the design of the ones in action on the Moon) and the lander was tested on a “full-scale” site last October. The new CZ-5 launcher will be ready in time for the takeoff in July.
We now learn that the YF-77 engines of the rocket in question have already passed their most important tests including an ignition for a simulated mission. Once integrated on the main floor, they will join the launching range at Wenchang, probably in early spring.
The CZ-5 launcher has already proven that it can return to the front of the stage, with a successful takeoff on December 27. If all goes as planned Huoxing-1 might be a milestone and China is already planning a follow-up in 2028 with a sampling mission.