Where is the U.S.A.? Russia and China Cooperate on Orbiter Mission to Mars
May 23, 2007 • 11:29AM

May 23 (EIRNS)—The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology has put a model of China's first space probe designed to orbit Mars, on display at the Minhang District Museum in Shanghai. This probe will be launched by a Russian rocket in October 2009.

Russia and China agreed to this Mars shot when President Hu Jintao went to Moscow March 27-29, which the Chinese Space Administration called "an important milestone in Chinese-Russian space cooperation," combining Russia's advanced space exploration capabilities with China's economic contribution. "The project will lift our overall capacity of deep space exploration and the space industry generally," Chinese space engineer Chen Changya said at the Minhang exhibition yesterday, Shanghai Daily. reported.

The probe will resemble a typical weather satellite, and the prototype should be ready by April 2008, with the final, launch-ready orbiter scheduled for completion just four months before the launch by a Russian Soyuz-2 Rocket. The Russian rocket will also carry a Russian Mars rover Phobos-Grunt.

It will take well over a year to get the Chinese orbiter in place. It will carry scientific devices to photograph Mars, with a special focus on studying the disappearance of water from the planet. Being able to use Russia's much more powerful rockets gives China years of advantage in its space exploration, because it does not have any rocket powerful enough to reach Mars. Over the next decade, however, China will be working on the Long March V rocket, which should be capable of such long space flight.