Translated by CDT from Xin Kuai Bao (Êñ∞Âø´Êä•):
A foreign affairs spokesperson for the National Space Administration (ÂõΩÂÆ∂Ëà™Â§©Â±Ä) said that China is going to launch twin Mars explorers on a Russian-made rocket in 2009. The twin crafts will be developed and produced by China and Russia. China’s will do the same job as its moon mission, orbiting Mars for imaging purposes. The Russian one will land on Mars.
This project will further build up China’s capabilities in deep space exploration, monitoring and data collection. The mission is hundreds of times the distance of the moon plan and will mean another giant step for China’s space initiatives. [Full Text in Chinese]