China to lunch first Mars probe in July, 2020

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China plans to launch its first Mars probe in July of 2020, followed by a second Mars mission in around 2028, Beijing News reports.

The probe is expected to land on the surface of Mars for exploration in the year of 2021 after 10 months of flying, said Li Guoping, spokesperson for the China National Space Administration. He was speaking at a space exploration-related forum held in Beijing on Tuesday.

The probe will carry 13 types of payload that will be used to collect data on the environment, morphology, surface structure and atmosphere of Mars, and will be launched on a Long March-5 carrier rocket from the Wenchang space launch center in southern China's Hainan Province, Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of the Mars mission, revealed earlier.

Li Guoping said the second Mars mission in 2028 aims to collect soil from the red planet Martian. He added that China will set out asteroid exploration in future years and start to explore the Jupiter system in around 2030. Li said the first Mars exploration program is well underway, while the following missions are going through official ratification.

The CNSA spokesperson also shed light on other plans on China's space exploration: the Chang'e-4 lunar probe will soft land on the far-side of the moon at the end of 2018 and the heavy-lift carrier rocket Long March-9 is set to be launched in 2028.

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