China inches closer to the moon

21 Aug 2007
00:00
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(China Daily via NewsEdge)

China has announced that its moon probe project has entered the launching phase with the satellite and carrier rocket now ready for launch.

The China National Space Administration said the first lunar orbiter, Chang'e I, and the carrier rocket, a Long March 3-A, have both passed testing.

The launch site, testing system and ground application system have also been completed for launch.

"The project will be a milestone in our space technology," said Zhang Yunchuan, minister of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense. "It is our first attempt in exploring the moon with technology wholly developed on our own."

He quoted Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan's words, asking all participants to continue working hard to guarantee the project a complete success.

Zhang didn't specify the launch date.

Initiated in January 2004, the moon exploration project is regarded as the third milestone in China's space technology venture after successful satellite and manned spacecraft projects.

The moon orbiter, Chang'e I, will provide 3D images of the moon's surface, probe the distribution of 14 usable elements on the moon, study lunar microwaves and estimate the thickness of the moon's soil. It is the first phase of China's moon probe program.

The entire program is divided into three phases - circling the moon, landing on the moon and going back to Earth.

After the launch of the orbiter in the first phase, China will launch a moon rover in the second phase, and launch another rover in the third phase, which will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples.

© 2007 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved.

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