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China’s First Moon Orbiter Blasts Off for the Moon

Posted October. 25, 2007 03:19,   


China is approaching its millennium dream of moon exploration one step at a time. The world largest emerging power successfully launched its moon orbiter on Wednesday. Subsequently, it plans to send an unmanned rover to the moon by 2012, and dispatch a manned spaceship to commence moon exploration in earnest by 2017.

Successful launch of China’s first lunar probe -

China’s first-ever moon orbiter “Chang`e I” blasted off at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China`s Sichuan Province.

China’s President Hu Jintao and other newly elected and re-elected leaders visited the launch center to observe the blast-off and encouraged officials in related fields.

Chang`e I, which is on course for the moon is expected to enter earth-moon transfer orbit on October 31 and enter the moon’s orbit, some 380,000 kilometers from the Earth, by November 5. The vessel will orbit the moon every 129 minutes at a height of 200 kilometers on a one-year mission.

What is the mission of the Chang`e I Satellite? –

The newly departed Chang`e I will conduct a series of projects. First, it will relay three-dimensional pictures of the moon to earth. To do so, it will explore the moon’s crust and geological features. The orbiter is expected to simultaneously look for the optimal site upon which an unmanned rover can land in the next stage of China’s planned moon exploration.

In addition, it will also research atoms and materials using gamma X-rays and identify their distribution characteristics. This is to allow future projects to utilize moon’s natural resources. Research regarding the moon’s origin and development is scheduled to be carried out in parallel.

Also included in its missions are studies of the thickness and distribution of moon’s soil, solar wind plasma, the relationship between solar wind and the moon, and the space environment between the Earth and the moon.

The Xichang Satellite Launch Center was crowded with tourists -

Fifteen hundred tickets for seats in the “observation site for Chang’e I” were sold-out a week before the scheduled launch date.

The observation site, located in the mid-slope of Mt. Newtou, 2.5 kilometers from the launch center, provides a good view of the launch center. Hotels in the small town of Xichang, 65 kilometers from the launch center with population of 600,000, were fully booked until October 25.

China, Japan, and India are engaged in the moon exploration race -

Japan launched its first moon probe on September 14. It also plans to send an unmanned spacecraft by 2017, and a manned rover by 2025. India has its own ambition to launch its first lunar explorer, “Chandrayaan I,” next April, followed by the landing of its manned spacecraft on the moon by 2020.

The Chang`e I satellite is named after Chang`e, a legendary Chinese goddess who ascended from earth to live on the moon after drinking a magical elixir. The “Chang’e Project,” which started in 2004, is a three-stage, 13-year initiative which comprises exploration by the orbiter, landing of an unmanned rover, and finally putting a man on the moon. The first phase cost China $186 million.