China / Innovation

China to explore Mars in 2020

By Zhao Lei and Ma Chi ( Updated: 2016-04-22 20:19

China to explore Mars in 2020

A rocket carrying the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft to Mars blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, March 14, 2016. [Photo/Agencies] 

China's first independent Mars exploration program has been approved by the central authorities, Xu Dazhe, the director of the China National Space Administration, announced on Friday.

China is set to launch its first Mars probe in 2020, Xu said at a news conference. The probe is expected to arrive at Mars in 2021 after more than nine months' space travel. It will orbit and land on the planet.

China's previous effort to explore Mars in cooperation with Russia in 2011 failed after the Russian launch vehicle carrying Yinghuo-1, China's first Mars probe, crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

So far, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, the European Space Agency and India have successfully carried out Mars exploration missions.

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