China unveils name of first Mars exploration mission

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BEIJING – The Chinese space agency on Friday unveiled the name of its first exploration mission to Mars, coinciding with China’s annual Space Day and the 50th anniversary of the launch of its first satellite.

The Mars mission was named Tianwen-1, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The unmanned exploration mission to Mars is slated to launch this year.

The name comes from “Tianwen” or “Questions to Heaven”, a poem written by Qu Yuan who lived more than two millennia ago.

In the poem, questions were asked about the stars and other celestial bodies.

The CNSA said that all of China‚Äôs future planetary exploration missions would be named “Tianwen” to signify the country’s scientific activities in space.

China successfully launched its first satellite, the Dongfanghong-1, in 1970.

In 2003, it became the third country to put a man into space with his own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

Since then, China has struggled to catch up with Russia and the United States and become a major space power by 2030. (Ryan Woo report Editing by Robert Birsel)

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