China and Russia are planning a joint mission to Mars that will
not only bring samples back to earth but also aims to effect a
landing on one of the Red Planet's tiny moons, a Chinese space
scientist has said.
Ye Peijian, a leading scientist with the Chinese Research
Institute of Space Technology, made the announcement at an ongoing
forum on China's space technology development organized by the
Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Ye said Russia will launch the spacecraft in 2009 and it will
carry China-made survey equipment. It will collect samples on Mars
and the planet's nearest moon.
Sun Laiyan, administrator of the China National Space
Administration said last month at an international space conference
that China is actively planning its deep space exploration projects
for the next five years, focusing on lunar and Mars
"We will encourage other countries to take part in space science
programs initiated by China, and Chinese scientists will likewise
participate in international programs," Sun said.
In February 2004, China began a Lunar Exploration Mission, and
started research and development into a lunar probe.
China's space agency plans to launch its first lunar orbiter,
Chang'e I, in 2007. In 2010, it will launch an unmanned spacecraft
for a soft landing on the Moon.
In October 2005, Shenzhou VI initiated manned space lab
experiments. During this time, China also launched four recoverable
Sun said that the priorities in China's future space program
were manned space missions, lunar probes, the development of
high-resolution observation systems, second generation navigation
and positional systems, and a new generation carrier rocket.
Wang Xiaojun, deputy director of the general department of the
China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said that China
urgently needs to develop a new generation carrier rocket to
increase China's space capabilities.
Research and development into the heavy carrier rocket, in-orbit
assembly and launch technology, and reuse of carriers will be key
areas, Wang said.
Wang Yongzhi, former chief designer of China's manned-space
project, said that China will need to construct its own space
station in the future.
But the construction of this space station should reflect
China's situation and practical needs.
"China's future space station should be small and economical,"
Wang said, adding that it would not have to be manned
(Xinhua News Agency August 24, 2006)