Columnist Leonard David

China Unveils Mars Rover Design, Launches Name Search

Artist's illustration of China's first Mars rover.
China unveiled the design of its first Mars rover on Aug. 23, 2016. The mission is scheduled to launch in August 2020. (Image credit: SASINTD via State Council for People's Republic of China)

China unveiled the first concept images of its first Mars rover this week during a press event in Beijing that also launched a public competition to pick a name and logo for the probe — which is due to launch in 2020.

"What we're aiming at now is to launch the voyager in July or August of 2020," said Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of China's Mars exploration mission, during state-run CCTV coverage of the Aug. 23 announcement. "Our overall concept for this mission is to do it in two stages. Stage One is to materialize orbiting Mars. Stage Two is to land on Mars to collect samples from it, hopefully done before 2030."

An artist's concept of China's first Mars lander and rover mission, which is slated to launch in 2020. (Image credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)

Liu Jizhong, deputy director-general of China's Mars exploration mission, director of China's lunar exploration program and space engineering, added: "All the Chinese are looking up to the country's first Mars exploration mission which is an innovative engineering project. China's Mars exploration mission has also drawn attention from the international community. This competitive public campaign to name and logo the voyager can be seen as side-step in the cultural domain."

The public campaign will solicit from the country's citizens a name and a logo for the Mars craft and is being hosted by China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

Competitive entries will be accepted for two months prior to final selection of the Mars vehicle's name and mission logo.

To view the press event, go to this CCTV-Plus video:

Leonard David is author of "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet," to be published by National Geographic this October. The book is a companion to the National Geographic Channel six-part series coming in November. A longtime writer for, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook orGoogle+. Originally published on .

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He was received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.