Yuanwang-6 tracking ship.
Credit: PLAN

China’s space tracking ship Yuanwang-6 has set sail on multiple spacecraft monitoring missions.

The Xinhua news agency reports that Yuanwang-6 will carry out missions in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean – the first time for a Yuanwang ship to perform missions in the three oceans during a single voyage.

The ship has completed an overhaul, maritime calibration tests, equipment precision appraisals and two satellite maritime monitoring missions this year.

China’s Mars orbiter, lander, rover effort.
Credit: China Aerospace Technology Corporation

Mars mission

It is likely this ship will be in position for duties associated with China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission that constitutes an orbiter, lander, and rover.

China’s Mars mission elements.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China plans to launch its first Mars probe between July 20 and 25, according to the China Global Television Network (CGTN).


To reach Mars in 2021, the spacecraft will be lofted by a Long March 5 Y4 carrier rocket.

China’s Mars landing regions.
Courtesy: James Head

Regarding the selection of China’s robotic Mars landing site, two regions have been identified that represent a wide array of scientific sleuthing, including appraising possible habitats of life.

The lander/rover will perform a soft landing on the Martian surface some 2–3 months after arrival of the spacecraft, with a candidate landing site in Utopia Planitia.

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