CHINA has launched a Mars rocket which fired the starting pistol in the race with the US to land humans on Red Planet.
The Tianwen-1 was launched on a Long March-5 carrier rocket from a launch site on Hainan Island.
It marked the second flight to Mars this week, after a United Arab Emirates orbiter blasted off on a rocket from Japan on Monday.
America is also aiming to launch Perseverance, its most sophisticated Mars rover ever, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, next week.
China's tandem spacecraft — with both an orbiter and a rover — will take seven months to reach Mars, like the others. If all goes well, Tianwen-1, or "quest for heavenly truth," will look for underground water, if it's present, as well as evidence of possible ancient life.
More to follow…
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