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China Mars Mission: Long March 5 rocket launches Tianwen-1 probe

[video:China Mars Mission: Long March 5 rocket launches Tianwen-1 probe]

Sending a satellite or spacecraft into orbit needs a strong carrier rocket. For China, it's the Long March 5. CGTN's Wu Lei speaks to some experts on the rocket's crucial role in China's mission to Mars.

It's the fifth journey to space for the Long March 5 rocket family. But this launch is special. This time, it's sending a five-ton probe -- including an orbiter, a lander, and a rover -- from Earth into Mars's orbit. Experts say speed is of the essence.

ZHU XIQUAN China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology "The probe needs to get into the Mars transfer orbit, so the spacecraft needs enough speed to break away from Earth's orbit. This can be achieved with a second escape velocity of over 11-point-2 kilometers per second."

The Long March 5 has a payload capacity of about 25 tons to low Earth orbit and around 14 tons to geo-synchronous -- or high Earth -- orbit. It's equipped with China's most advanced rocket fuel engine, powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene.

CHEN JIANHUA Deputy Chief Designer, Long March 5 Rocket Academy of Aerospace Propulsion Technology "Different orbits require different engines. We made some modifications to the boosters so the rocket can reach the Earth-Mars transfer orbit, and the core engine remains stable."

With the launch window set for noon, engineers made some more adjustments to get by with the humid Hainan weather.

LIU TONGJIE Spokesperson, China's Mars Exploration Mission "The next Mars probe will be a sample-return mission, which is targeted for 2030. That will be more challenging and will require a bigger rocket."

Many experts say the Long March 5 rocket is China's big ticket to the global space powerhouse club. It will be responsible for other major missions, including the transport of China's manned space station and future lunar exploration. WL, CGTN, Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site.


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