China to launch first Mars probe in 2009
China will launch its first Mars probe in October 2009 as part of a joint mission with Russia.
Researchers are "pressing ahead" with the project for a synchronised launching with a Russian probe, Chen Changya, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Satellite Engineering said.
He said the home-developed Chinese probe is scheduled for completion by June 2009.
The probe, 75 centimetres long, 75 centimetres wide, 60 centimetres high and weighing 110 kilograms, is designed to be able to serve a two-year mission, Chen was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
A model of the probe vehicle is on display at an ongoing space exhibition in Shanghai.
The Chinese probe, with Russia's Phobos-Grunt, will be launched by a Russian carrier rocket, Chen said.
They are expected to land on Mars in 2010 after 10 month's flight.