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China To Launch Mars Probe In 2011

January 3, 2011

China, working jointly with Russia, plans to launch its first Mars probe in October after a two-year delay, state media reported on Sunday.

Yinghuo-1 was due to blast off in October 2009 along with Russia’s “Phobos Explorer” from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan but the launch was postponed, Xinhua news agency said.

The media report, quoting an anonymous expert at China Academy of Space Technology, said the launch was pushed back to October 2011. It also reported that China plans to launch a Mars probe on its own in 2013.

Other reports said the orbiter will probe the Martian space environment and study what happened to the water that appears to have once been abundant on the surface of the Red Planet.

China, which aims to become competitive with the United States and Russian space programs, already has begun probing the Moon. The Chang’e-2 is in lunar orbit carrying out various tests in preparation for the expected 2013 launch of the Chang’e-3, which China hopes will be its first unmanned lunar landing.

China also became the third nation to put a man in space independently. Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou-5 space mission in 2003. The United States and Russia are the only other two nations to put a man into space independently. 

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