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China to launch Mars exploration rover in 2009
Updated: 2008-12-05 15:56

China will send its first Mars Rover, Yinghuo-1, into space in October next year by a Russian space rocket under a bilateral Mars exploration initiative reached between Russia and China in March this year.

The simulated image of China's first Mars Rover, Yinghuo-1. The exploration rover will be sent into space in October next year. []

Chen Changya, a Shanghai Space Administration official, also deputy designer-in-chief of China's first Mars rover, disclosed this Wednesday at an ongoing aerospace exhibition held in Shanghai.

According to the deep space exploration plan, Yinghuo-1, a small 110 kilogram spacecraft with an estimated one year life span, is expected to be put into orbit by August 2010, after an 11 month long and 350 million kilometers distant space journey. It will then begin its mission of exploring the surface of the red planet.

Chen says that rather than landing on Mars, China's Yinghuo-1 will collect scientific data while in orbit. It will constantly transmit data back to space headquarters on Earth via a long-distance transmission system. However, the spacecraft will never return to Earth.

With the bilateral Mars exploration initiative in place, Chen adds that China is awaiting cooperative experiments with Russia.

To date, China has already developed 4 sample craft related to the Mars exploration program, two of which have already been transported to Russia. After close test experiments in Russia, Yinghuo-1 will finally stand out from the two sample craft, which, of course, will need improvements while in tests.

Meanwhile, Russia's Mars spacecraft, which will be launched together with the Yinghuo-1, is targeted to land on the red planet.

Back in 1962, former Soviet Union started the history of Mars exploration. In 1964, the American Mariner 4 became the first spacecraft ever to visit the red planet.