China successfully launched an unmanned probe to Mars on Thursday (July 23)- its first independent mission to another planet.
It's a bid for leadership in space - and a display of Beijing's technological ambition.
After taking off from China's southern island of Hainan, the probe is expected to reach Mars in February.
It'll then spend two to three months looking for an opportunity to enter its atmosphere and make a soft landing.
The mission is fraught with difficulties, as spokesman Liu Tongjie explains.
"When the probe arrives within the vicinity of Mars, it is very critical that it decelerates. If the deceleration process is not right, or if flight precision is not sufficient enough, then the probe will not reach the gravity of Mars, and this mission could face difficulties or risks."
If the landing goes well, it'll attempt to deploy a rover to explore the planet for 90 days.
The Chinese mission is carrying several scientific instruments to observe the planet's atmosphere, searching for signs of water and ice.
The United Arab Emirates launched its own mission to Mars on Monday, comprising an orbiter to study the atmosphere.
It'll join eight spacecraft - American, European and Indian - already either orbiting Mars or on its surface.
The United States also has plans to send another probe in the coming months.
Theirs will have the biggest, heaviest and most advanced rover NASA has ever sent.