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China has no Mars probe plan: official

PLA Daily 2004-01-06

BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Though China has been doing research on Mars, it currently has no plan to send a space probe to the planet, an official in charge of the national space program told Xinhua on Monday.

He made the announcement in response to inaccurate reports carried in some domestic media that China is to launch a Mars probe before 2020.

China will kick off its moon-probe program this year, and plans to send an unmanned space probe into orbit around the moon before 2007, the official said.

According to him, China will try to send a space probe to land on the moon by 2010, and send a probe to reconnoiter the lunar surface and bring back mineral samples by 2020.

China's space technology and equipment is not yet up to the task of probing Mars, the official said, adding that more efforts should be made to improve scientific research and infrastructure in this respect.

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