A Long March 5 rocket takes off Thursday from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island with the Tianwen 1 Mars mission. Credit: Xinhua
A heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket propelled China’s first Mars landing mission toward the red planet on Thursday after launching from a seaside spaceport on Hainan Island, the second of three international Mars probes expected to depart planet Earth this month.
Kicking off a nearly seven-month journey, China’s Tianwen 1 spacecraft lifted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in southern China’s Hainan province at 0441 GMT (12:41 p.m. Beijing time) on top of a Long March 5 rocket, the heaviest launcher in the country’s inventory.
A live video feed streamed by amateur spectators near the launch site showed the Long March 5 rocket climbing away from the Wenchang spaceport. Ten rocket engines fueled by kerosene and liquid hydrogen powered the 57-meter tall Long March 5 into a sunny midday sky, and the rocket quickly receded from view in the unofficial online video feed.
Chinese state media did not broadcast the mission live or publicize the exact launch time in advance, but airspace and maritime notices warning pilots and sailors to steer clear of downrange ...