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Multiple Nations Readying Midsummer Launches to Mars

Jan. 1, 2020 (EIRNS)—Four space agencies plan to send robots to Mars in 2020, with the launches set for July, according to a Dec. 31 preview in MIT Technology Review.

Then, in November, the first launch of NASA’s Artemis, Phase I is scheduled to take place. This is the first launch by the Space Launch System (SLS) lower stage, of the Orion crew capsule (without crew) to orbit the Moon and return, a three-week mission. And also late in the year, China plans to carry out Chang’e-5, sending a lander to collect soil and rocks from the near side of the Moon and then rendezvous with an orbiter to return the samples to Earth.

On the Mars missions, MIT Technology Review reports, “The biggest is NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, armed with a slew of state-of-the-art instruments that will seek to tell us whether extraterrestrial life once existed (or even may currently exist) there.... China has its own rover, called Huoxing-1, going up to study the Martian terrain and atmosphere for 90 days. ESA [European Space Agency] and [Russia’s] Roscosmos are teaming up to launch Rosalind Franklin, a rover named after the chemist who helped discover the structure of DNA. Appropriately enough, it will look for signs of life as well. And lastly, the U.A.E. is going to send out an orbiter, the Hope Mars Mission, to study the planet’s atmospheric chemistry from above.”

The window for launches to Mars is narrow for rockets using chemical propulsion, and if that window is missed this year, it will be 26 months before Earth and Mars are in a favorable relation again for launches.

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