China to send orbiter to moon and back

August 11, 2014
China's Chang'e-3 rocket, carrying the Jade Rabbit rover, blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan on December 2, 2013

China will launch its first recoverable moon orbiter later this year, the government announced, in the latest step in its ambitious space programme.

The mission will be launched before the end of the year and will travel to the before returning to earth, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement on Sunday.

Doing so will require withstanding the that develop when a probe re-enters the Earth's atmosphere.

The orbiter will test technology that will be be used for China's ambitious Chang'e-5 mission, which aims to gather samples from the moon's surface, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise, as well as evidence of the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

The moon orbiter has been transported to the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan, SASTIND said.

In Chinese mythology, Chang'e is the goddess of the moon who lives in a palace with her pet Yutu, or jade rabbit. The country's , launched as part of the Chang'e-3 lunar mission late last year, was named after the pet.

Screen grab taken from CCTV footage shows of the Jade Rabbit moon rover taken by the Chang'e-3 probe lander on December 15, 2013

China had declared that mission a "complete success", but mechanical problems have plagued Yutu and reports in May said the rover was gradually becoming "weakened".

The Chang'e-5 mission will be more sophisticated and technological challenges include taking off from the moon's surface, rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit, and high-speed Earth re-entry, Xinhua said.

The military-run project has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.

A chief scientist told state media in 2012 that China planned to collect samples from the surface of Mars by 2030.

Explore further: Chinese moon rover designer shooting for Mars

Related Stories

Chinese moon rover designer shooting for Mars

July 4, 2014

The man who designed China's Jade Rabbit moon rover hopes a more advanced version of his creation will be sent to Mars, state media reported, underscoring Beijing's increasingly ambitious space programme.

China moon rover enters lunar orbit

December 6, 2013

China's first lunar rover entered the moon's orbit on Friday, state media reported, a key step towards the vessel's planned landing later this month.

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover has 'abnormality'

January 25, 2014

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover has experienced a "mechanical control abnormality", state media said on Saturday, in what appears to be a setback for a landmark mission in the country's ambitious space programme.

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (7) Aug 11, 2014
This article fails to mention the real mission for the Chinese moon program. It's the mining of helium 3, a virtually inexhaustible source of fusion energy.
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 11, 2014
The thing about that though, we still haven't perfected fusion.
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2014
Yeah, that'd be like mining for uranium as a power source in the 1800s.
1 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2014
Helium3 enables lightweight fusion reactors. China has need of these as they are developing the Shawler Drive, a inertial drive that uses only power and no fuel; and has no emissions. Look up EmDrive or Em Drive on Wiki and follow enuf leads and you will get to the site in China that demonstrates, complete with math....and references.. a thrust of a Kg/Kw. This IS news. It means that the Star Trek shuttlecraft is no longer science fiction. This is a fact that we ignore at our peril, and detract only out of foolishness. In fact, NASA is working on a version of this right now but it is a generation one device using normal electrical conductors and low currents. The NASA 'Eagleworks' project Cannae (check spelling) is slated to start using superconductors and to imitate the Chinese pulsing tech that led to generation 2 devices. Limitations of it are acceleration <=.5g against a grav well, so ascents are slow. No limit on horizontal V. Look it up BEFORE comments please.
1 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2014
To this date, shortage of enuf He3 has precluded He3 reactor research, but such could develope quickly given a supply. Of course, how to 'mine' it will be among the enabling tech. This stuff should be on asteroids too, giving impetus to our own program to capture an asteroid and check it out with out having to do it in a grav well. Shuttles using this tech will take off slowly but could take off from city centers or anywhere and land the same way, as deceleration dV/dt is not limited. This eliminates the weight of heavy structures and heat shields on shuttles. A craft like in Star Trek Enterprise...the prequel..would be sufficient. That other project from NASA, the supposed Warpdrive ship would be nice but not necessary for in system exploration and resource mining. This EmDrive Gen2 and M2P2 would work fine to get us where ever we want in the solar system at up to 8*(10^5)K/hr, solar wind V. The EmDrive then is used for grav wells, like our home. No fuel to carry. Nice.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2014
Planting your flag at the opening of moon caves should be the race we are running.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2014
like even if what ur claiming is "out there" is legit the amount of money you would need to fund everything all the way through would take a considerable amount of time. Society and culture would need to make leaps and bounds in social progress to adapt the technologies... this is nothing thats going to happen to soon or to this type of society... it's not something we have to stress over and cry about. It is exactly like drammamoose put it really. no need for hype or even to be in the article

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.