Launch Date Nov. 8, 2011
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia
Destination Mars
Type Zenit-2M
Status Unsuccessful
Nation China
Alternate Names Firefly

Goals

Study the Martian space environmental structure and regional gravity field, photograph Mars and Phobos. The mission was also to test deep space navigation and communication techniques.

Accomplishments

None. Yinghuo-1, which was riding to Mars aboard Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, was lost when a malfunction stranded both spacecraft in Earth orbit. The Chinese and Russian missions re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on Jan. 15, 2012.

In Depth

Yinghuo-1 was stacked below Phobos-Grunt. Yinghuo-1 launched into an elliptical Earth orbit. The plan was to use a Fregat upper stage to carry Phobos-Grunt and Yinghuo-1 on an 11 month cruise to Mars. However, the later firings never occurred and the spacecraft remained in Earth orbit. Both missions fell back to Earth on Jan. 15, 2012.

The plan for the mission if it had made it to Mars was for both spacecraft to be be injected into an 500 x 50,000 mile (800 x 80,000 kilometer) near-equatorial orbit with a period of about 72 hours. The spacecraft were to stay connected for about three 3 orbits and then separated. Phobos-Grunt was to head to Phobos while Yinghuo-1 remained in Mars orbit.

Key Dates

Nov. 8, 2011 | 20:16 UTC: Launch

Jan. 15, 2013: Earth Re-entry

Spacecraft

Launch Vehicle: Zenit

Spacecraft Mass: 254 pounds (115 Kilograms)

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. Camera

  2. plasma detector

  3. magnetometer

Trivia

Shining Light on Mars

Yinghuo-1 means "Firefly" in Chinese.

First Attempt

This was China’s first attempt to reach Mars.

Additional Resources

National Space Science Data Center Master Catalog: Yinghuo-1

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