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Tianwen-1 spacecraft enters into orbit

Its five-tonne spacecraft stack, made up of orbiter and rover, was launched from Wenchang spaceport in July, and travelled nearly half a billion km to rendezvous with the Red Planet. China is following the strategy employed by the Americans for their successful Viking landers in the mid-1970s. The idea then was to make orbit first and only later send a robot to the surface. Engineers had planned a 14-minute braking burn on the orbiter’s 3,000-newton thruster, with the expectation that this would reduce its 23km/s velocity sufficiently to allow capture by Mars’ gravity. Do you think that everything done today has a reference model for improvement ?

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