BEIJING (AP) — China has landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time in the latest advance for its space program.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday that the lander had touched down, citing the China National Space Administration.
Named after the Chinese god of fire, Zhurong, the rover will stay in the lander for diagnostics tests for several days before rolling down a ramp to begin exploring for signs of life.
China’s first Mars landing follows the launch last month of the main section of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon last year.
Previously, only the United States has successfully landed and operated a spacecraft on Mars — nine times, beginning with the twin Vikings in 1976 and, most recently, with the Perseverance rover in February.
China is now the second.