First Chinese Unmanned Lunar Mission Set For 2007

Aug 17, 2005

China is planning a three-stage programme of unmanned lunar missions, with the aim of bringing back rock samples from the moon in around 2017, aerospace officials said yesterday.

"If there are no major problems, China's first unmanned satellite to the moon will be launched in 2007," said Luan Enjie, chief commander of the country's lunar exploration programme.

This is the second time in a week Chinese scientists have confirmed the plan. On August 9, Ye Peijian, chief designer of the orbiter, said research and development of the satellite is going smoothly.

Luan made the latest remarks at a ceremony yesterday in Beijing to kick off a one-and-half-month campaign to solicit designs for a moon exploration programme logo.

The lunar orbiter, dubbed Chang'e-1 (CH-1), is named after the Chinese legend of a young fairy who flies to the moon. The orbiter weighs more than 2 tons and, if all goes to plan, will fly for a year, Luan said.

As the first phase of a three-part lunar probe programme, the unmanned fly-by mission will collect information for three-dimensional mapping of the moon's surface as well as studying its mineral content.

In the second phase, scientists plan to put a "lunar vehicle" on the moon to explore the lunar surface in around 2012.

Through the wheeled robotic explorer, scientists hope to get to know the moon's environment and analyze the composition of lunar rocks, Luan said.

Another soft-lander will be launched around 2017, with the mission of bringing back lunar samples.

Luan did not reveal when China will be sending a man on the moon, but said the 2017 mission would provide data for manned lunar missions and for choosing a site for a lunar base.

To accomplish the missions, scientists will have to solve a chain of problems regarding satellites, rockets and tracking systems, he said.

Sun Laiyan, director of the China National Space Administration, yesterday said the lunar missions constituted a new landmark in the country's space programme after the launching of satellites and manned spacecraft.

"The lunar probe indicates China has taken an important step towards exploration of deeper space," Sun said.

The moon will provide a platform from which to explore further into space, he said earlier.

China launched its lunar exploration programme belatedly. The former Soviet Union launched Luna 10, the world's first spacecraft to go into lunar orbit on April 4, 1966, a few months before the US launched Lunar Orbiter 1.

Copyright 2005 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: Hubble view: Wolf-Rayet stars, intense and short-lived

Related Stories

A brief history of nukes in space

Jun 26, 2015

In just a few short weeks, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will make its historic flyby of Pluto and its moons. Solar panels are unable to operate in the dim nether regions of the outer solar system, and instead, ...

Building a smarter rover

Jun 04, 2015

The next mission to Mars could carry a smarter rover that is able to make better decisions absent instructions from Earth. Engineers are looking to automate some of the simple decision-making steps undertaken ...

Image: Shadow of Surveyor 1 on the moon

Jun 03, 2015

Surveyor 1, the first of the Surveyor missions to make a successful soft landing, proved the validity of the spacecraft's design and landing technique.

Recommended for you

Hubble view: Wolf-Rayet stars, intense and short-lived

16 minutes ago

This NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope picture shows a galaxy named SBS 1415+437 (also called SDSS CGB 12067.1), located about 45 million light-years from Earth. SBS 1415+437 is a Wolf-Rayet ...

Crash test assesses plane emergency locator transmitters

42 minutes ago

The Cessna 172 airplane dangled 82 feet in the air – looking almost like it was coming in for a landing, except for the cables attaching it to a huge gantry at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, ...

NASA image: Curiosity's stars and stripes

1 hour ago

This view of the American flag medallion on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 44th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). ...

NASA image: Stellar sparklers that last

1 hour ago

While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young ...

Light echo helps researchers map out parts of galaxy

6 hours ago

Thousands of years before humans invented agriculture, a bright burst of X-rays left the dense neutron star Circinus X-1, located in the faint Southern constellation Circinus. A year and a half ago, those ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.