The first joint Chinese-Russian mission to Mars is set to take off in October and reach the red planet in August 2010, an exploration project designer said.
A Russian Zenit rocket will launch a Chinese Yinghuo-1 satellite and a Russian Phobos-Grunt unmanned lander, Chen Changya, chief designer of the China-Russia Mars exploration project, told Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po newspaper.
Phobos-Grunt is expected to study Mars from orbit, including its atmosphere and dust storms, plasma and radiation, before landing on Phobos, one of Mars' two small moons.
Yinghuo-1, which means Firefly-1, will explore the Martian environment and carry out research into how surface water on the planet disappeared, Chen said.
I wonder if the Phobos-Grunt is new or a dusted off version of the hopper from the ill fated Phobos Missions in the late 1980s? This will be the first Chinese mission to Mars and a return to Mars for Russia after a long hiatus. Their last Mars mission was the Mars 96 probe that failed when its booster, unfortunately, choked.
Hopefully, the Great Galactic Ghoul will leave this one alone.
Good luck, guys!