China lays out its plan for Mars

Chinese space officials have come up with a plan that would send an orbiter toward Mars on a Chinese rocket as early as 2013, the [Xinhua news agency reports][1]. Such a mission would use technologies that were developed for the Chang’e 1 lunar orbiter and its recently launched follow-up mission, [Chang’e 2][2].

The orbiter mission also would follow up on China’s joint effort with Russia to send probes toward Mars and one of its moons, Phobos. Launch of the [Phobos-Grunt mission][3] is scheduled for a year from now. China’s Yinghuo 1 (“Firefly”) orbiter would hitch a ride on a Russian-built spacecraft that’s designed to put a lander on Phobos and return a soil sample to Earth.

All this activity signals that Beijing will be taking its status as a space power seriously in the years ahead. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has just returned from a [controversial visit][4] to China, and today he said in a [written statement][5] that the visit “increased mutual understanding on the issue of human spaceflight and space exploration, which can form the basis for further dialogue and cooperation in a manner that is consistent with the national interests of both of our countries.”

[1]: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2010-10/22/c_13570443.htm [2]: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39438559/ns/technology_and_science-space/ [3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fobos-Grunt [4]: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39724870/ns/technology_and_science-space [5]: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=31926

URL: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/10/25/5349170-china-lays-out-its-plan-for-mars

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