News24

China Mars probe set for launch

2011-02-21 13:16

Shanghai - China's first Mars probe will be launched from a Russian rocket in November, two years later than originally planned, state media reported on Monday.

China's Mars explorer, Yinghuo-1, marks the country's first attempt at deep space exploration after sending a probe to the moon, the state-run China Daily reported, citing comments from a China Academy of Space Technology official.

The 110kg micro-satellite was originally due to blast off in October 2009 with Russia's "Phobos Explorer" from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but the launch was postponed, according to previous reports.

The orbiter is due to probe the Martian space environment with a special focus on what happened to the water that appears to have once been abundant on the planet's surface, previous reports said.

China is aiming to build a space exploration programme on par with those of the US and Russia.

It currently has a probe - the Chang'e 2 - orbiting the moon and carrying out various tests in preparation for the expected 2013 launch of the Chang'e-3, which it hopes will be its first unmanned lunar landing.

It became the world's third nation to put a man in space independently - after the Soviet Union and the US - when Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou-5 space mission in 2003.

China's Wang Yue is currently participating in a simulation of a mission to Mars in Russia, where astronauts have spent eight months in a space capsule cut off from the world.

Comments
  • Lanfear - 2011-02-22 12:05

    Well, bets are on that either China or a China/Russia combo will be the first to send people to Mars. Must say, it seems that the US has lost interest in the so-called space race. All they seem to be interested in is spending even more billions on their army. Oh well, at least there are others that are still interested. The Euro Space Agency is also still doing lots of research and may join up with the China/Russia efforts. Predict anyway that the ones to colonise and explore space will eventually be private corporations. Few governments have the funds or the interest to do so.

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