Plans Readied For Second Satellite Launch, Manned Lunar
China plans to launch its second
lunar satellite by year's end, and plans for a manned mission to
the moon by 2020, according to official state media announcements
on September 9th.
Preparations for the the Chang'e-2 probe launch, which will go
into orbit within 15 kilometers (nine miles) of the moon, are going
smoothly, People's Daily said, citing Wu Weiren, a senior engineer
overseeing the program, according to international news agancy
The Chang'e-2 mission is in pre-launch testing and those close
to the program report the plan is to conduct a trial flight mission
by the end of the year. October has been suggested, but no official
date has been announced.
AFP goes on to report the lunar probe will test soft-landing and
other technologies in preparation for the launch of the Chang'e-3,
which is slated for launch in 2013 and aims to be China's first
unmanned landing on the moon, citing an official statement from
Chinese state media.
The Chang'e program is named after a Chinese goddess who flew to
the moon. China's program is seen by many as an effort to
rival programs of both the United States and Russa.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences says China's second probe, the
Chang'e-2 "will fly much faster than its predecessor and
reach lunar orbit within a shorter period of time," citing a top
Chinese space expert.
The academy's Web site goes on to quote Ouyang Ziyuan, chief
scientist at the China Lunar Exploration Project, "It is estimated
Chang'e-2 can reach lunar orbit within five days, compared to 13
days, 14 hours and 19 minutes for Chang'e-1."
"China has not been to moon before the country launched
Chang'e-1, so we were very prudent at that time and adjusted its
orbit in a very slow manner. It flew a journey of 2.06 million km
before reaching lunar orbit," Ziyuan continued. "We can send
Chang'e-2 directly to the moon and we have also changed the orbit
for it, so it can reach lunar orbit within five days."
In addition, Chang'e 2 will orbit 100 km closer to the moon and
carry a higher resolution camera, the site said.
According to China's three-phase moon exploration road map, the
country will first launch the Chang'e-2 lunar orbiter. Then it will
land Chang'e-3 on the moon in 2013. Then, in 2017, a moon rock
sample will be returned to earth.
Chang'e-2 will test key soft-landing technologies for the
Chang'e-3 and provide high-resolution photographs of the landing
area, the space authorities said.
Several news sources also indicate the country plans to launch
its third unmanned probe to the moon, Chang'e-3, in 2013.
In September 2008, China executed its very first space walk
mission with the the Shenzhou-7, piloted by three astronauts.