To launch the Mars mission, a modification of the CZ-5 Y4 with a launch mass of about 870 tonnes was used.
Six other spacecraft are exploring Mars from the planet's orbit: three American, two European and one from India. The mission would've also released China's first Mars spacecraft, the Yinghuo-1 orbiter. It will allow engineers to assess the atmospheric conditions on Mars before attempting what will be a hazardous descent. The LN-200S has been used on all previous Mars Rover missions including 2003's Spirit and Opportunity, and 2012's Curiosity, which is still operating nearly eight years beyond its initial two-year mission. And in a week from now, the U.S. space agency (Nasa) aims to despatch its next-generation rover, Perseverance.
A Long March 5B rocket blasts off in May 2020.
Launch commander Zhang Xueyu said the rocket was flying normally around 45 minutes later, and that it had entered the scheduled orbit.
A Long March 5 rocket lifted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, in the South China Sea through partly cloudy skies on Thursday afternoon, local time. The rover will study the region's geology - at, and just below, the surface. NASA's InSight and Curiosity rovers still operate today. It weighs some 240kg and is powered by fold-out solar panels. During that attempt, a Chinese orbiter accompanying a Russian mission was lost when the spacecraft failed to get out of Earth's orbit after launching from Kazakhstan.
Still, a manned mission to Mars by any country remains years in the future.
"We carry out this first Mars exploration mission to peacefully use the universe and to explore its mysteries".
"These operations involve a succession of sophisticated maneuvers and require each and every step to be carefully and elaborately planned and accurately carried out", he said."The heatproof cover, parachute and retrorockets on the probe created to decelerate the lander within a short time all must fulfill their tasks to guarantee the landing of the probe". Musk has said he's like to die on Mars - presumably of old age, of course.
"China joining (the Mars race) will change the situation dominated by the U.S. for half a century", said Chen Lan, an independent analyst at GoTaikonauts, which specialises in China's space programme. "Safe travels Tianwen-1!"
The 530-pound 6-wheel rover will ride down atop the lander and then roll off extendable ramps to the surface area.
An artist's perception of the Tianwen-1 lander and rover on the area of Mars.
"It's incredibly exciting to see what China is doing", she commented.