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China to Launch Mars-probe Spacecraft by End of 2020
SOURCE: CCTV     UPDATED: 2016-10-09

BEIJING, Oct. 10 (CCTV) -- The 2020 Chinese Mars Mission will be officially launched by the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period and the research on the project has started, said Lei Fanpei, chairman of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

China plans to send a spacecraft to orbit the Mars, make a landing, and deploy a rover to the Red Planet within about five years and has released images of its Mars probe and rover early in August.

"The research on the Mars-probe mission has already started, according to the current plan, and we will launch the spacecraft by the end of 2020, and land it on the Mars before July of 2021, to explore around the planet," said Lei.

The lander will separate from the orbiter at the end of a journey of around seven months and touch down in a low latitude area in the northern hemisphere of the Mars where the rover will explore the surface.

It means the two functions of orbiting and rover exploration will be combined in one step in the mission.

"Because we already have experience from the lunar orbit and rover mission, we can now further realize the orbiting and landing mission on the Mars. But the gravity environment is different on the two planets, and the Mars is farther to the Earth than the moon, and its vacuum environment and deep space communication must be taken into consideration. So we are facing challenges in terms of the load capacity of our spacecraft," Lei says.

The 2020 mission will be launched on a Long March-5 carrier rocket from the Wenchang space launch center in south China's Hainan province.