China Plans Mars Mission


China has drawn up a technical plan for an independent Mars orbiter exploration project, space technology experts said. Based on research conducted by the China Academy of Space Technology, the plan envisions a launch date as early as 2013, Huang Jiangchuan, a scientist with the academy, was quoted by Beijing-based Science and Technology Daily. The Mars probe will be sent to an Earth-Mars transfer orbit first, and then fly about 10 months before entering an elliptical orbit around Mars. The Mars exploration will last one to two years, he said.

The government has not yet approved the project. But Yang Baohua, president of the academy, was quoted by Guangming Daily as saying that a step-by-step exploration of the Red Planet is 'no doubt the future trend and mission for China'.

Ye Peijian, chief designer of the nation's first moon probe, told China Daily over the phone on Friday that the technical plan does not represent the world's most advanced technologies in deep space exploration. 'But it will be the most reliable plan available which can help us achieve the goal in the shortest time,' he said.

He said that China has proven its ability in spacecraft design through the two lunar satellites, Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2. Together with a deep space network under construction and the progress in the launch vehicle system, China can target Mars now, he said. The direct investment needed for this project will be less than the 1.4 billion yuan (S$272.8 million) spent on Chang'e-1, he estimated. 

Via China Daily


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