An illustration of China’s planned robotic Mars mission, called HX-1. Chinese State Administration of Science/Xinhua

China will follow-up its feat of becoming the only country to land a probe on the far side of the Moon with its second Mars mission in 2020.

China’s first Mars mission in 2011 failed, said the China National Space Administration (CNSA). This attempt saw CNSA attempt to fly an orbiter called Yinghuo-1 to Mars. The chinese pauload aboard Russia’s Fobos-Grunt mission failed to leave Earth orbit and has been stranded in Low Earth Orbit since.

At the end of 2019, the China National Space Administration intends to launch a follow-up Chang’e 5 mission to scoop up the nation’s first samples of lunar soil and return them to Earth.

The spacecraft is being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and managed by the National Space Science Center (NSSC).

“China’s first Mars exploration mission will be implemented around 2020,”

– Wu Yanhua, the agency’s deputy director, said during a briefing last week.

The stated mission objective is to search for evidence of both current and past life and assess Mars’ planet’s environment.

The project involves sending a lander, a rover, and a satellite to Mars with the goal of collecting rock and soil samples from the surface of the red planet and eventually shipping them to Earth over the next decade.

Mockup of the rover at the 69th International Astronautical Congress.

Orbital insertion for the HX-1 orbiter is expected to occur from Feb. 11 to Feb. 24, 2021. The orbiter will be equipped with high-resolution cameras, a magnetometer, a spectrometer, and a radar.

China and its HX-1 mission could be the first interplanetary mission to bring back samples from Mars.