Russia and China agreed to launch a joint mission to Mars to gather rock samples from the planet and it's nearest moon in 2009.
China will supply all necessary scientific and survey equipment for the shuttle, while Russia will launch the spacecraft. A leading scientist at the Chinese Research Institute of Space Technology made the announcement during a Chinese space technology forum. China wants to focus specifically on the Earth's moon and Mars over the next five years.
China is aggressively trying to become the nation on the forefront of space exploration. After sending astronaut Yang Liwei into space in 2003, China is third behind the United States and the Soviet Union to successfully put a man into space. The country sent two more astronauts into space last October, with another manned orbit scheduled sometime next year.