China successfully soft-lands probe on the moon

Dec 14, 2013 by Louise Watt
This Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, shows a picture of the moon surface taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 on the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. China on Saturday successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Jianmin) NO SALES

China on Saturday successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

The unmanned Chang'e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth's nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.

The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called "Yutu," or "Jade Rabbit," the goddess' pet. After landing Saturday evening on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover was slated to separate from the Chang'e eight hours later and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

China's is an enormous source of pride for the country, the third to carry out a lunar soft landing—which does not damage the craft and the equipment it carries—after the United States and the former Soviet Union. The last one was by the Soviet Union in 1976.

"It's still a significant technological challenge to land on another world," said Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane's Space Systems and Industry. "Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn't have an atmosphere so you can't use parachutes or anything like that. You have to use rocket motors for the descent and you have to make sure you go down at the right angle and the right rate of descent and you don't end up in a crater on top of a large rock."

This screen grab taken from CCTV live broadcasting footage shows an image (right) of China's first lunar rover transmitted back to the control centre in Beijing after it landed on the moon on December 14, 2013

State-run China Central Television showed a computer-generated image of the Chang'e 3 lander's path as it approached the surface of the moon, saying that during the 12-minute landing period it needed to have no contact with Earth. As it was just hundreds of meters (yards) away, the lander's camera broadcast images of the moon's surface.

This screen grab taken from CCTV live broadcasting footage shows an image of China's first lunar rover transmitted back to the control centre in Beijing, after it landed on the moon on December 14, 2013

The Chang'e 3's solar panels, which are used to absorb sunlight to generate power, opened soon after the landing. The Chang'e 3 will set up antennae that will transmit pictures back to Earth.

The Chang'e mission blasted off from southwest China on Dec. 2 on a Long March-3B carrier rocket.

China's military-backed space program has made methodical progress in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in technology and experience.

This screen grab taken from CCTV live broadcasting footage shows scientists celebrating at the control centre in Beijing after China's first lunar rover landed on the moon on December 14, 2013

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation after Russia and the United States to achieve manned space travel independently. In 2006, it sent its first probe to the moon. China plans to open a space station around 2020 and send an astronaut to the moon after that.

This photograph taken off the screen at the Beijing Space Centre shows the moon surface transmitted to earth by Chang'e-3 carrying China's first lunar rover on December 14, 2013

"They are taking their time with getting to know about how to fly humans into space, how to build stations ... how to explore the solar system, especially the and Mars," Bond said. "They are making good strides, and I think over the next 10, 20 years they'll certainly be rivaling Russia and America in this area and maybe overtaking them in some areas."

Explore further: China's first lunar rover to land on moon Saturday

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katesisco
3.7 / 5 (15) Dec 14, 2013
Wonderful! Astounding success!
Zephir_fan
Dec 14, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Shootist
3 / 5 (10) Dec 14, 2013
Wonderful! Astounding success!


Why do you think they really did do it Skippette?


bugger off lighting lad.

Congrats to the Red Chinese.
davidivad
1 / 5 (6) Dec 14, 2013
next is to build one with a trunk monkey.
PhotonX
4.3 / 5 (7) Dec 14, 2013
Go, China go! The sooner they make the next human footprint on the Moon, the sooner we can hopefully quit hearing from the Moon Landing Hoax morons.
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Whydening Gyre
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 14, 2013
It's possible this could help motivate Science education in the US in order to stay competitive in the global game...
philstacy9
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2013
Sadly there will be no Captain Kirk but rather a Captain Chen exploring uncharted space on the starship Mao.
hurricane25
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 14, 2013
Sadly there will be no Captain Kirk but rather a Captain Chen exploring uncharted space on the starship Mao.


It's our choice as we don't want to spend money on exploration BUT war. Worthless never ending war.
big_hairy_jimbo
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2013
Superb!!! I don't care what country performs space science, as long as someone is DOING IT!! Well done China!!!
As mentioned by others, this might re-invigorate Lunar exploration by other countries.

Though I suspect the U.S. is going down the Asteroid path, as escaping the Earths Gravity well is expensive when you need to get some serious mass into space. Therefore mining asteroids and creating vessels in space is the only way to go. Robots are perfect for this. So mine asteroids, build ships complex enough to have EVERYTHNG you need without skimping due to weight limitations. Then ship humans up and explore the solar system!!!

Either way, I'm looking forward to pictures, and hopefully some good HD video from the Chinese rover. Hope they put some good camera's on it!!

P.S. good to see a minimisation of Chinese propaganda statements in this article!!
Zephir_fan
Dec 14, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
brucie bee
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 14, 2013
Well done & congratulations China on peaceful exploration & commercialization of our solar system.
Humpty
Dec 15, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Humpty
Dec 15, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
PS3
1 / 5 (2) Dec 15, 2013
This would a bit impressive if they were not late to the party by over my age ; )
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Dec 15, 2013
there is the never-ending hope that this will push our current political leaders into re-thinking our NASA budget and perhaps increasing it.

alfie_null
5 / 5 (2) Dec 15, 2013
Though I suspect the U.S. is going down the Asteroid path

Well . . . At least until there's a change in the administration. NASA gets a four to eight year window to achieve something. Then, it's off in a different direction. Not that I'm by any means blaming politics. If the public isn't largely in favor of achieving some particular goal, you can hardly expect politicians to push for it.

For the points you listed, and some others, going after asteroids makes sense. It's moderately difficult, and we'll learn lots while figuring out how to do it. I hope these Chinese achievements don't spur us to land on the Moon again. That would be hard only in that we would have to re-learn what we have forgotten.

Or rather, if the U.S. must go back to the Moon, it would be cool if it were entirely privately backed, with no NASA involvement.
______
1 / 5 (4) Dec 15, 2013
Private-capital American jewish-christian bourgeois media seems hell-bent on adding qualifiers like "state media". It is getting tiresome. Have you ever tried reading the non-state private media, like www.qq.com, www.sina.com.cn and so on, or is it something that makes you prefer reading the "state media" outlets? Perhaps you consider them more reliable than the private-capital media?
philstacy9
3 / 5 (4) Dec 15, 2013
Sadly there will be no Captain Kirk but rather a Captain Chen exploring uncharted space on the starship Mao.


It's our choice as we don't want to spend money on exploration BUT war. Worthless never ending war.

War used to bother me but I recently discovered it was just a hologram.
Solon
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 15, 2013
Looks pretty dark up there, aren't they in full sunlight right now? The fall-off outside of what appears to be a floodlit central area is pretty telling isn't it?
vlaaing peerd
not rated yet Dec 16, 2013
Wang's foo-chew


Chinese actually adapt English names when they get their first English lessons in school. The sole reason for it is because people like you hardly seem to posses just about enough wit to distinguish a hamburger from a bucket of KFC.

China and India are in the space race, we don't need pretty pictures for proof. Enjoy their success, they too will contribute greatly to science.