Probe Will Send Photos In Late November
It's official -- there is an Asian
space race developing, albeit an undeclared one. China announced
Monday it would launch its first lunar probe this week, according
to The Associated Press.
The announcement follows Japan's effort to explore the moon from
a high orbit; as ANN reported, that
country's Kaguya probe entered lunar orbit in early October. India
is reportedly on a similar track, and has announced its intentions
to launch in April 2008.
The launch window for China's Chang'e 1 orbiter is set for
Wednesday through Friday, with the prime time being 1800 EDT
Wednesday, said Li Guoping, a spokesman for the China National
"The orbiting of the moon is a high-tech project of
self-innovation," Li told reporters. "It will set the technological
foundation for the development of China's space exploration."
The Chang'e 1 will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch
Center in Sichuan province in southwestern China, Li said.
Everything is A-OK in China according to the AP report, with Li
stating "they fully fulfill the technical requirements."
The lunar probe is expected to enter the moon's orbit by
November 5, according to Chinese officials.
The mission is very scientifically-oriented, but will also
examine mineral resources. Scientists want to analyze the chemical
and mineral composition of the lunar surface, Li said, adding that
it will use stereo cameras and X-ray spectrometers to map
three-dimensional images of the surface and study the moon's
Li also said the probe would beam its photographs back to earth
sometime the second week in November, "Then it will work for one
year of scientific exploration."
China was the first Asian country to put astronauts into space
in 2003. China also blasted an old satellite into oblivion with a
land-based anti-satellite missile, the first such test ever
conducted by any nation, including the United States and Russia,
earlier this year.
"The mission has a very strong scientific emphasis," said Sun
Kwok, professor of physics and dean of science at the University of
Hong Kong. "It's not just about technology. It's more than just
launching a satellite, it's more than putting the first satellite
"It's very good for China being a major power," said Kwok, who
is on an advisory panel of Chinese scientists who have been invited
to help with data analysis on the Chang'e's findings. "It shows
that China is moving more and more into the international space