China is shaping up to be one of the big players in space exploration and has am ambitious set of missions on the drawing board. Newly announced is a launch date for a Mars Orbiter. A final name for the probe has yet to be decided, though the China Daily is calling it Yinghuo-1, which appears to translate as Firefly. The 100kg probe will be lofted into orbit on a Russian launch vehicle in October 2009, marking a new closeness with Russia. Yinghuo-1 is expected to spend a year in orbit about Mars, but the mission has the potential to be extended by a further year. The probe will conduct a variety of scientific observations and return images of the planet.