China's space agency held a press conference on Tuesday to mark the release of a policy paper, and outlined the government's goals for exploring deep space.
Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the National Space Administration, said Beijing aims to launch its first Mars probe around 2020 to carry out orbiting and roving exploration, followed by a second mission that would include collection of surface samples from the red planet.
China launched an ion drive HEP-100MF thruster. It was jointly developed by research teams from the Harbin Institute of Technology (H.I.T.) and the China Academy of Space Technology's (CAST) Institute 502, successfully debuted Nov. 22 aboard an orbiting Shijian-17 satellite. The satellite was launched Nov. 3 by a Long March 5 rocket. This will be used for deep space missions.