China completes first mission to moon and back

October 31, 2014
This is a composite image of the lunar nearside taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009, note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon. Credit: NASA

China completed its first return mission to the moon early Saturday with the successful re-entry and landing of an unmanned probe, state media reported, in the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious space programme.

The landed safely in northern China's Inner Mongolia region, state news agency Xinhua said, citing the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

Xinhua said the probe took "some incredible pictures" of the Earth and the moon.

Prior to re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, the unnamed probe was travelling at 11.2 kilometres per second (25,000 miles per hour), a speed that can generate temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,700 degrees Fahrenheit), the news agency reported.

To slow it down, scientists let the craft "bounce" off Earth's atmosphere before re-entering again and landing.

The probe's mission was to travel to the moon, fly around it and head back to Earth, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement at its launch eight days ago.

The module would have been 413,000 kilometres from Earth at its furthest point on the mission, SASTIND said at the time.

The mission was launched to test technology to be used in the Chang'e-5, China's fourth lunar probe, which aims to gather samples from the moon's surface and will be launched around 2017, SASTIND previously said.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise.

The military-run space project, which has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon, is also seen as evidence of the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

China currently has a rover on the surface of the moon.

The craft, called the Jade Rabbit and launched as part of the Chang'e-3 lunar late last year, has been declared a success by Chinese authorities, although it has been beset by mechanical troubles.

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17 comments

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Returners
3 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2014
If the U.S. doesn't start thinking more seriously and more practically about space flight, we risk being overtaken by China and India.

Apparently India focuses on cheap and efficient, and China is just plain good. The U.S.? Capitalism, government corruption, ridiculously over-budget projects with precision standards which probably could have been better met by having a larger number of less precise systems working together. (James Webb).

Who else gets to be 2 or 3 times over budget on a project besides NASA?

For our next space telescope after James Webb, making it out of solid Gold just won't do. We have to one-up that. The next one needs to be made out of PLATINUM!!
tritace
Oct 31, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Uncle Ira
2.8 / 5 (9) Oct 31, 2014
If the U.S. doesn't start thinking more seriously and more practically about space flight, we risk being overtaken by China and India.


Well that sounds real bad Cher. It would be a terrible thing if they took the moon to China or India. But I still got to give you the bad karma points Skippy, for the PLATINUM thing, because everybody knows that a cube of platinum weighs a lot more than the same size cube of gold. Another silly idea from the Returnering-Skippy.

Now get back to building your barges to cover a quarter of the Pontchartrain.
TheKnowItAll
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 01, 2014
Competition is good. I love it! go China go :D
HTK
3.2 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2014
Come one USA if china gets to the moon they will say they own it. Hurry up and send the man again and build a base already!
Sanescience
4 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2014
Ah the prattle of the unhinged. Long have I been away from comments and upon my curious peek see that it is still a vapid collection OCD posts.

That asside, no America has not handled post cold war very well. Does anyone else have anything close to our knowledge-base of skill sets? No. China and India will probably achieve levels of success but they cannot be compared as apple-to-apple with actual sophisticated insight yeilding science of USA and European missions. Nor are they anywhere near SpaceX.

As for colonizing the Moon. That will not be done by people. It will be done by virtual endpoint automata operated by people on Earth. Honda and Boston Robotics areas of expertise.

That is all, please cary on with witless admonishments, fantasy physics, or sabataging dobut from state sponsored propagandists if not self inflicted.
Returners
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2014
As for colonizing the Moon. That will not be done by people. It will be done by virtual endpoint automata operated by people on Earth. Honda and Boston Robotics areas of expertise.


Ah, you don't know me very well, do you?

Before physforum banned me permanently for discussing A.I, I offered several schemes for initial operation of massive amounts of lunar harvesting via both fully automated and partially automated (remote operated) vehicles and refineries. The technology to do this has existest for 30 years or more, and is currently in application in every space probe and every UAV on Earth, even Google, a "mere" IT company, has mapping and navigation technology greatly exceeding the requirements; Stanford University has a navigation AI that can fit on a toy truck which has mapping and autonomous navigation abilities greatly exceeding requirements, but for some reason everyone seems oblivious to it.
Returners
3.2 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2014
With a lunar refinery and robotic production facility, it should be possible to construct most of the components of a self-replicating system on-site. The lunar regolith is rich in Aluminum, which is more than strong enough for all structural components of construction machinery and radio control towers for use in the lunar gravity. I believe 3-D printing may even be sufficient to make many components in the near future, which may be even more versatile than previously thought.

Oxygen baked out of the rocks during refining would be captured and stored in a network of large storage tanks for later human retrieval and usage.

Perhaps one day we might be able to make some sort of plasmonic/photonic-electric engine for locomotion, instead of just electric. In this way you could move pure light around to do work, which is much more efficient than using the energy of light to move electrons around to do work, since electrons have "real" mass while photons do not.
Shootist
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2014
Someone is going to colonize the Moon, Mars, the Asteroids.

There is no guarantee those colonists will speakie de engrish.
teslaberry
1 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2014
If the U.S. doesn't start thinking more seriously and more practically about space flight, we risk being overtaken by China and India.


the cold war is over buddy. the lie about being the 'best' country is long over. don't be a moron. or is that asking too much?
Egleton
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2014
Ah the prattle of the unhinged. Long have I been away from comments and upon my curious peek see that it is still a vapid collection OCD posts.

That asside, no America has not handled post cold war very well. Does anyone else have anything close to our knowledge-base of skill sets? No. China and India will probably achieve levels of success but they cannot be compared as apple-to-apple with actual sophisticated insight yeilding science of USA and European missions. Nor are they anywhere near Space X.


Ah, the smell of Hubris in the Morning.
Egleton
1 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2014
I'm on your side Returners. So was Dr Gerard K O'Neil. And Stephen Hawking.

But the illustrious leaders of your fortunate country decided to spend their inheritance bombing rice farmers in Vietnam. And they got their bottoms paddled for their efforts.

Truely, we are led by the least amongst us.
eric_in_chicago
not rated yet Nov 01, 2014
whoever invents a 3d printer that uses moondust wins...
KBK
not rated yet Nov 02, 2014
whomever wins the x-prize for forbidden technology wins. Or at least wins the bullet in the chest, and takes one for the team, as the rest surge around and ahead.
JoeBlue
1 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2014
Yeah, SpaceX is doing great, if you're trying to kill your pilots and spread the craft across the desert in pieces.
eric_in_chicago
not rated yet Nov 03, 2014
China will claim the majority of any lava tubes in the moon and develop them.
LariAnn
not rated yet Nov 03, 2014
Yeah, SpaceX is doing great, if you're trying to kill your pilots and spread the craft across the desert in pieces.

I believe you are mistaking SpaceX for Virgin Galactic, two completely different companies. SpaceX has an unblemished stellar record of launches, a feat that cannot be matched or compared to the records of either Virgin Galactic or Orbital Sciences.

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