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By TAG Heuer, TAG HEUER TEAM —  24 Aug 2016

China’s Mars Exploration Program on the red planet in 2020 keeps time with TAG Heuer!

From John Glenn to China's Mars Exploration Program, TAG Heuer reaches the stars in support of China’s bold bid to explore the red planet.


“Mars Rover” Unveiling Ceremony & Global Solicitation for Program Name and Logo Design


Meet the challenge. Explore Mars. #DontCrackUnderPressure is far more than a command – it is a mindset.


History of spaceflight became part of human achievement in the 20th century following theoretical and practical breakthroughs. China has emerged with a significant spaceflight capability, including manned missions.


China’s Mars Exploration Program is now officially on time with TAG Heuer, kicking off with its global solicitation for program logo design and the unveiling of the exterior design of the long-awaited, first-ever Mars rover of China.


Today at the press conference, in the presence of Jean-Claude Biver, TAG Heuer CEO and President of the LVMH Watch Division, with the Director of the lunar exploration program and space engineering center under the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, Mr. Jizhong Liu and the Chief Designer of The Mars Exploration Mission, Mr Rongqiao Zhang, TAG Heuer is honored to become the partner of this global solicitation event, demonstrating TAG Heuer’s full support towards the China’s Mars Exploration Program.

TAG Heuer, first watch in space on an American wrist in 1962.


TAG Heuer is the Swiss Avant-Garde watchmaker for 155 years. Avant-garde is our culture and our philosophy. TAG Heuer’s unique heritage is built on pushing boundaries and breaking rules: harnessing mental fortitude to overcome technology restraints and create watches with real racing spirit. The brand has marked the history of watchmaking, especially in the field of chronographs with an unparalleled mechanical accuracy.


On February 20, 1962, TAG Heuer became the first Swiss watchmaker in space with an American astronaut. "The clock is running!" With these words, John Glenn started his stopwatch as he became the first American astronaut to achieve the first manned US orbital flight in his Mercury capsule, Friendship 7.


This stopwatch manufactured by TAG Heuer in Switzerland, was modified with elastic bands to fit over the sleeve of Glenn’s spacesuit. After the failure of other brand of watches on the earlier flights of Alan Shepherd and Virgil "Gus" Grissom, the TAG Heuer was selected by NASA due to its ability to withstand the high G-forces of lift-off. This original stopwatch is now at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, the replica is kept at the TAG Heuer Museum at La Chaux-de-Fonds.


In May 2012, TAG Heuer sent its new Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX Chronograph on an orbital mission. The watch was brought to the International Space Station by SpaceX to prove its reliability and accuracy even under the most extreme circumstance of all time.


On July 12, 2016, TAG Heuer announced a unique partnership with S3 (Swiss Space Systems) ZeroG aerospace program. The TAG Heuer S3 watch serves that as a boarding pass to access the flight, will give the public a chance to experience zero gravity.


TAG Heuer, which has always followed the development of space industry, has tackled every technological challenge with its leading time-keeping function – even a challenge in space. In 1887, Edouard Heuer changed the course of watchmaking forever with the invention of the oscillating pinion, still today a key chronograph component. Throughout the 20th century, from 1/100th second, to 1/1000th second, and today even to 1/10000th second accuracy, TAG Heuer breaks the record of precise timekeeping time after time, pushing the limits of watchmaking.

From Sixties onward, the space race has become increasingly intense.


With the rapid development of modern aerospace science and technology, conquering space is no longer a dream. Starting from the 1960’s, space race has become increasingly intense. Every satellite that has ever been successfully launched has become our eye in the space, watching the vast universe for us without making a single noise.


Faced with elevated challenges, the China National Space Industry Committee, shortly after its founding, prioritized the research and development of rocket technologies as part of its key projects. On October 8, 1956, the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defense was founded as China’s first institute on missile and rocket research. In May 1958, the Chinese central government decided to begin development of man-made satellites. After the unremitting efforts of Chinese elite space scientists, China’s first man-made earth satellite was launched on April 24, 1970. In 2003, China completed the first manned space flight; in 2007, China’s first lunar orbiter was launched; and in 2013, China’s first lunar probe successfully landed, and has worked in space for 19 months now, setting a record in the world of the longest working time on the moon.


On April 22, 2016, Xu Dazhe, head of the China National Space Administration, confirmed on a state council press conference that the Mars mission had been officially set up and an unmanned probe to Mars will be sent to orbit and land on the Red Planet in 2020 to conduct research on planet's soil, environment and atmosphere for the first time.


This mission is another one of China’s most important space exploration mission since its manned spacecraft, lunar exploration flights. Unlike any of the first U.S. or Russian Mars expeditions, China’s first Mars program will consist of orbiting, landing and rover deployment in one mission. According to the plan, shortly after successfully orbiting the Mars, the lander with the rover will separate from the orbiter and begin its descent to the surface of the planet, leading to a higher demand on the autonomous operations of the rover after its landing. The trajectory design is also more challenging to meet both orbiting and landing requirements.


At its most distant, Mars is as far as 400 million km away from the earth, while the average distance from the earth to the moon is 384,000 km, which makes the Mars expedition a more ambitious challenge than a lunar soft landing and roving. The increased distance requires higher data transmission rates, adding difficulties to remotely control a rover on the Mars surface. In addition, compared to the moon, Mars receives less sunlight, which is further blocked by its dusty atmosphere, making it more challenging to ensure the rover’s energy supply.

Meet The Challenge, Explore Mars.


Scheduled to launch in 2020, the ambitious program aims to explore the topography, soil, environment, and atmosphere of Mars, as well as the distribution of ice and water on the planet, its physical fields and internal structure.


With regards to the support for China’s Mars Exploration Program, Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and LVMH Watch Division President said: “Mars exploration is one of the greatest missions in man’s conquest of space. TAG Heuer’s support to the program represents its strong support for human beings’ grand space dream. It is an honor and a privilege to support this dream, the next giant leap for humanity.”


Liu Jizhong, deputy chief commander of China’s first Mars probe project and Dean of Lunar Exploration & Aerospace Engineering Center, remarked, “We are pleased to work with the first Swiss watch brand that enters the space. Timing is of critical importance to the aerospace industry. TAG Heuer provides precise time keeping, and in particular, it has no fear in meeting challenges, which reflects the belief of Chinese astronauts. According to the plan, China will land on Mars around 2020. Although it will be a tough road ahead, Chinese astronauts will create history with fearless spirit. We look forward to that exciting moment.”


The first Mars exploration mission will consist of entering the Mars orbit, landing on the planet and deploying a rover. It is a big challenge to achieve the three goals in one mission. This is in perfect alignment with the brand spirit of TAG Heuer #DontCrackUnderPressure as well as the perpetual driving force for the progress of mankind.