China (Monitoring Desk) China launched its first spacecraft on Mars on Saturday, in what is being celebrated as a huge achievement for the country’s space programme. The spacecraft carrying “Zhurong” made the dangerous fall through the Martian atmosphere, using a parachute to navigate the infamous “seven minutes of horror,” heading for the Utopia Planitia, a large northern lava plain.
It “successfully landed in the pre-selected area,” according to state broadcaster CCTV, which also launched a special TV programme named “Nihao Mars” dedicated to the expedition (“Hello Mars”).
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) was mentioned by the official Xinhua news agency in verifying the landing. It makes China the first country to orbit, land, and spacecraft on Mars during its first mission, a feat that has yet to be equaled by the only other two countries to visit the Red Planet, the United States and Russia.
According to Xinhua, President Xi Jinping conveyed his “warm congratulations and sincere greetings” to all members who took part in the Mars exploration expedition. China has already sent men into space, sent probes to the Moon, and landed a rover on Mars, claiming the most prestigious prize in the race for space dominance.