Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 15:54 UK

China probe to launch in October

Mars (Nasa)
Russia and China have agreed to co-operate on Mars exploration

China's first unmanned Mars probe is being readied for a launch later this year, state media reports.

The Yinghuo 1 orbiter is scheduled to lift-off alongside Russia's Phobos-Grunt spacecraft aboard a Zenit rocket in October after final testing.

The probe will slip into orbit around Mars some 10 months later.

It will investigate what happened to the water that appears to have once been abundant on the planet's surface.

The 110kg (242lb) Chinese satellite, developed by the Shanghai Space Administration, will carry eight pieces of equipment, including two cameras, the report said.

China became the third nation to put a man into space when Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou 5 space mission in 2003.

In 2007, the country despatched an unmanned spacecraft called Chang'e to orbit the Moon.

Last September, Chinese astronauts, known as "yuhangyuan", stepped outside the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft to carry out the country's first space walk.

China is due to launch a space module next year and carry out the nation's first space docking in 2011 as a step towards its goal of building a space station, state media say.

Phobos-Grunt is an unmanned probe that will touch down on Mars' biggest moon Phobos and then return a soil sample to Earth. It will also study the Red Planet from orbit, including its atmosphere, dust storms, plasma and radiation.

Yinghuo 1 and Phobos Grunt will blast off on a Russian carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The two countries signed an agreement in 2007 to co-operate on Mars exploration.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
What's driving China space efforts?
25 Sep 08 |  Science & Environment
Beijing's rocketing ambition
24 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China launches first Moon orbiter
24 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific