Thursday, May 28, 2009

China's Lunar Plans

A Chinese space scientist said that his country is considering the feasibility of a manned lunar landing mission sometime between 2025 and 2030. China is also planning a sample return mission to the Moon by 2017, said Ye Peijian, chief designer of the China’s Chang’e Project. “Through the development of lunar probes, we have made constant progress of the ability to explore the outer space,” Ye was quoted as saying by the China News Service.

Chang’e -1 launched successfully in 2007 and orbited the Moon for 16 months before conducting a controlled impact on the Moon’s surface earlier this year. The satellite mapped and created three-dimensional images of the lunar surface. Several performance tests were carried out while Chang’e-1 was in orbit to give engineers experience in orbit adjustment, and to test the spacecraft’s capability.

According to Ye, China will launch the second lunar probe Chang’e-2 in 2010 which will conduct research at a 100-kilometer-high moon orbit as the preparation for a soft landing by using variable thrusters with the Chang’e-3, which will include a lunar rover, currently in development.

Will they get there before the GLXP folks? ;)

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