China’s Mars mission delights space fans

By Shan Jie, Liu Caiyu and Li Qian Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/22 0:37:59

Photo: Xinhua


Space exploration enthusiasts in China are rushing to South China's Hainan to witness the historic launch of China's first mission to Mars. 

China's Tianwen-1 Mars probe is expected to be launched within the week, likely on Thursday, with the Long March-5 Y4 as the carrier rocket. It will be launched at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Province, media reports said.

The hashtag "China is ready for Mars mission" has garnered more than 15 million views on Sina Weibo as of press time, with many netizens expressing anticipation and curiosity about the upcoming event.

"Hello Mars. Please get ready to welcome your friends from Earth," a netizen wrote.

A group of around 40 space fans, together with their families and friends, are heading to Hainan to witness the historic moment.

"We will watch the launch on the beach, visit some scientific institutes and take a vacation in Hainan," Li Dapeng, a co-founder of the Mars Society of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

A three-day-two-night trip for parents and children to watch the launch has been promoted by the Mars Society on its WeChat platform. The trip features interactions with space and Mars experts for kids to learn about the red planet and China's history of space exploration. Participants can watch the launch from the Hilton Hotel near the Wenchang center.

The world has welcomed the season for Mars exploration which has seen a competition taking place between three countries - China, the US and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). On Tuesday, the UAE's first Mars probe, Hope, was launched from Japan. It is expected to enter Mars' orbit in February 2021. The US' Mars probe is set to be launched in August.

Angela Cui, director of the Mars Society in China, told the Global Times that China's first Mars probe raises wide interest among Chinese aerospace enthusiasts and young students. The event organized by the Mars Society gathered about 100 people from Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Most in attendance are students. 

They will closely watch the launch of the Long March-5 Y4 on beaches close to the Wenchang Space Launch Center. 

Apart from the event held by the Mars Society, many other Mars and aerospace enthusiasts and residents are expected to visit beaches near the center. Hotels with a view of the launch of the Long March-5 Y4 from a remote distance were also fully booked, Cui said.

The Mars mission has been a popular topic in China since the country announced the plan in January 2016. Related industries have been developed in association with the red planet.

A remote town, Lenghu, in the Gobi Desert in Northwest China's Qinghai Province is holding its first Mars Festival, featuring a "Mars adventure," sci-fi literature awards and hiking.

Lenghu has a unique landscape that resembles Mars, which allows it to boost tourism related to Mars, as well as attracting some key astronomical observation projects.

The most popular spot in Lenghu is its Mars Camp, where people can experience "life on Mars." It also provides Mars-related STEM courses for visiting children.

"Lenghu is a hot destination now. You can barely find a bed in hotels here at the moment," Tian Cairang, Party chief in Mangya city, which administers Lenghu, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Posted in: SOCIETY

blog comments powered by Disqus