An purportedly anonymous official of the China National Space Administration has indicated that China will continue with its deep space mission and that it will put a man on Mars in 2020.
I do a Space workshop with Grade 6 students through Scientists in School (www.scientistsinschool.ca). In my presentation, I state that China will be the first country to put a man on Mars. My rationale is quite simple: China doesn't have the battles of the budget that plague Western countries. China's leader doesn't change as frequently as Western leaders which simply means it is easier to stay the course.
I interviewed a scientist a few years ago who was involved with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). "Positioned 1.5 millions km from Earth in the cold darkness of space, JWST will be able to discover and study objects thousands of times fainter than those seen by current telescopes." (This quote is from an article I published in Crucible, September, 2010). The telescope was to be launched in 2012. It's still on the ground in a laboratory. The USA changed leaders and the telescope was no longer a priority.
Each country has its own brilliant scientists. I was pleased when India sent a spacecraft to Mars; the first Asian country to do so.
Did you know that NASA through thought about setting up a launch site on Cape Breton Island (Canada) which is on the same line of latitude as Kazakhstan? They changed their minds, and leaders. The USA says it will put a person on Mars in 2030 and they have been saying this for the past five years. Too late.
I can't wait to see which country does what in the next few years of space exploration. We live in exciting times.