In a ‘milestone’ achievement, China has successfully lands a rover-carrying spacecraft on Mars for the first time.

Iran PressAsia: China successfully landed a rover-carrying spacecraft on Mars for the first time, state-run media reported Saturday, marking another major victory for the country’s ambitious space program that aims to rival NASA.

China and the United States are the only nations to have successfully landed and operated rovers on Mars, and Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed a “milestone” achievement.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft, launched from the Chinese province of Hainan in July, had been orbiting Mars since February while surveying for potential landing sites. Early Saturday, it released an entry capsule containing a lander and a rover that began to plummet through the Mars atmosphere, The Washington Post reported citing the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The entry capsule safely touched down at 7:18 p.m. Eastern time Friday, though it took about an hour for ground controllers to determine that the mission had been a success, state media reported. During the perilous journey through the Martian atmosphere, the craft had to operate autonomously, and signals could not be transmitted back to ground control until the robotic rover had landed and unfolded its solar panels and antenna.


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China successfully launches space mission to send rover to Mars