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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's first Mars probe is expected to be launched in the second half of this year on top of a Russian rocket, said Xinhua on Thursday, the latest milestone in the nation's ambitious space program.
Yinghuo-1, or Firefly Light-1, weighs 115 kgs (253 lb) and passed an important test, Xinhua quoted Zhang Weiqiang, deputy secretary of the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology as saying.
The probe has an expected life of two years and would go into orbit around Mars in 2010 after a 10-month, 380-million-km journey, Zhang said.
Beijing is looking to eventually put astronauts on the moon, but the government has not announced any schedule for that mission.