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: Radio silence as Russia tries to contact space cargo

Related Stories

NASA image: Mission Control, Houston, April 13, 1970

Apr 14, 2015

Apollo 13, NASA's third crewed mission to the moon, launched on April 11, 1970. Two days later, on April 13, while the mission was en route to the moon, a fault in the electrical system of one of the Service ...

Interview with veteran NASA astronaut Brian Duffy

Apr 07, 2015

Space is always on the mind of a veteran NASA astronaut Brian Duffy. The key figure in an aerospace company Orbital ATK and a Space Shuttle commander is extremely keen on flying to space again. The enthusiasm ...

The pale blue dot and other 'selfies' of Earth

Apr 06, 2015

Twenty-five years ago a set of images were taken that provided a unique view of Earth and helped highlight the fragility of our existence, and the importance of our stewardship.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

Mar 30, 2015

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

Image: Launch of first crewed Gemini flight

Mar 24, 2015

In a span of 20 months from March 1965 to November 1966, NASA developed, tested and flew transformative capabilities and cutting-edge technologies in the Gemini program that paved the way for not only Apollo, ...

Recommended for you

Radio silence as Russia tries to contact space cargo

22 minutes ago

Russia will try again in the coming hours to make contact with an unmanned cargo ship after communications were lost following the spacecraft's launch toward the International Space Station, NASA said Tuesday.

Strong evidence for coronal heating theory presented

3 hours ago

The Sun's surface is blisteringly hot at 6,000 kelvins or 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit—but its atmosphere is another 300 times hotter. This has led to an enduring mystery for those who study the Sun: What ...

The view from up there, down here

6 hours ago

When many people saw the first stunning photos of the fragile blue marble of Earth from space, it changed their outlook of humanity. It was a singular moment in time when people around the world were watching ...

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.