During China’s first ‘Space Day’ last Friday, the country’s National Space Administration (CNSA) announced its plans to launch a Mars mission probe in 2020, slating the probe’s ETA on the red planet for 2021, the 100-year anniversary of the Communist Party of China.

“We are working on a tight engineering timeline, hoping to launch our Mars probe in the window of 2020,” says Dazhe Xu, the director of the China National Space Administration. “This is a huge challenge, because at the moment, countries that have successfully launched a probe to Mars include the U.S and Russia.”

China’s space program has made rapid progress since they launched their first man-made satellite forty six years ago. Like their Western counterparts, China’s early interests in space were partly motivated by nationalism, where successful space missions asserted country’s technological and scientific prowess.

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Eva Xiao

Eva Xiao is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. Contact her at eva.xiao@technode.com or evawxiao (wechat & twitter).