China and the U.S. are both scheduled to send probes to Mars this month on separate missions to explore the red planet, CNN Business reports.
The competition between the two nations will continue in space if both probes reach Mars by February 2021.
China plans to launch its Tianwen-1 on Thursday from Hainan Island in the country's south, according to CNN Business. The blast off is subject to weather and has not been confirmed by the government.
On July 30, NASA’s Perseverance rover is scheduled to take off.
The missions will seek to answer questions about the possibility of life existing on Mars. The rovers will look for signs of habitable conditions and any existence of microbial life, according to CNN Business.
NASA’s rover has a drill that is capable of collecting samples from rocks and setting them aside for possible examination by a later mission. If Perseverance makes it to Mars, it will be NASA’s seventh probe to land on the planet. The fourth rover, Curiosity, which landed in 2012, is still sending back data to Earth.
It will be China’s first trip to the Martian terrain if Tianwen-1, which means "Quest for Heavenly Truth," makes it to the planet. The probe will orbit before landing in its search for life.
Scientists involved in the mission said the Chinese probe will “orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter. No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way,” in a paper published last week in the journal Nature.
"If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough," the Chinese scientists wrote.
NASA sent several orbiters to Mars before it ever tried to land.
China has invested billions of dollars into space programs. In addition to the Mars mission, Beijing is eyeing a permanent space station by 2022 and considering sending a manned probe to the moon in the 2030s, according to the Chinese government’s 13th Five Year Plan.
The U.S. has also amped up its space involvement. President Donald Trump created the Space Force, a new branch of the armed services. During an unveiling of the organization's flag earlier this year, Trump said that "space is going to be the future. Both in terms of defense and offense and so many other things."
"Already, from what I'm hearing and based on reports, we are now the leader in space," he added.
Another probe is also slated to land on Mars next year. The United Arab Emirates launched its Hope Probe several days ago.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.