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Chinese Mars Probe To Launch In November

February 21, 2011

State media reported on Monday that China’s first Mars probe will be launched from a Russian rocket in November, two years later than originally planned.

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

According to previous reports, the 240-pound 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.

Previous reports said 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.

China is aiming to build a space exploration program on part with those of the U.S. and Russia.

Its Chang’e 2 probe has orbited the moon and carried out various tests in preparation for the expected 2013 launch of the Chang’e-3, which it hopes will be first unmanned lunar landing.

The spacecraft became the world’s third nation to put a man in space independently.

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.

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