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China's first lunar probe, the Chang'e 1, was launched two days ago, October 24th in 2007. So I'm a little bit late with this news :eek:

"China launched its first lunar probe on Wednesday, the first step into its ambitious three-stage moon mission, marking a new milestone in the country's space exploration history. The circumlunar satellite Chang'e-1 blasted off on a Long March3A carrier rocket at 6:05 p.m. (10:05 GMT) from the No. 3 launch tower in the Xichang Satellite Launch Center of southwestern Sichuan Province.

Hundreds of domestic reporters and space experts from Japan, Germany, Italy and other countries invited by the Chinese space authorities gathered at the launch center to see the historic moment. At the moment of blast, 400tons of water pumped into the tower gutters beforehand was immediately heated into vapor.

"The launch was very successful, and everything is proceeding just as planned," said Wu Ji, director of the Space Science and Applied Research Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Chang'e-1 separated from carrier rocket at 6:29 p.m. and entered into a 16-hour orbit at 205 kilometers perigee and 50,930 kilometers apogee, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC).

It flied over the Chilean sky at around 6:50 p.m. and began to use solar energy for power supply after its solar panel was unfolded under the observation of the Chilean's Center for Space Studies (CEE). It is the first time for China to improve space mission monitoring coverage through international networks. Another three observation stations of the European Space Agency also provide support for this project.

The launch of the lunar probe "marks another milestone in China's aerospace program following the launch of man-made satellite and manned space missions", said Chinese vice-premier Zeng Peiyan at the Xichang launch center. Zeng conveyed Chinese President Hu Jintao's congratulations on the launch success and his regards to the scientists, technicians and army officers who have been working on the research, development and experiment of the lunar probe project.

Chang'e-1, named after a legendary Chinese goddess of moon, is expected to experience four accelerations and enter earth-moon transfer orbit on October 31 and arrive in the moon's orbit on November 5. Flying to the moon is the nation's long cherished dream, as Chang'e has been worshipped as the "moon lady" for thousands of years. Legend has it that she floated toward the sky and finally landed on the moon after taking a bottle of elixir, where she became a goddess accompanied by a jade rabbit.

Chang'e-1 is so far the most sophisticated satellite China has ever built. Scientists will maneuver it at least 10 times before it arrives in the moon's orbit. China's Shenzhou VI manned spacecraft in 2005 was maneuvered three times by scientists in the flight control center."


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China's lunar probe completes 2nd orbital transfer

"China's lunar probe Chang'e-1 completed its second orbital transfer on Friday afternoon, one more step forward in its 380,000-km journey to the moon. The Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) issued the instruction for the orbital transfer at around 4:50 pm. The orbital transfer effected at 5:44 pm.

The probe is now moving on a 24-hour orbit with an apogee of 70,000 km, up from the former 50,000 km, according to information from the Yuanwang III space tracking ship at the southern Pacific. It will stay on the orbit for three days and then move further from the earth to a 48-hour orbit on Oct. 29, according to the BACC sources.

The lunar probe completed its first orbital transfer Thursday afternoon, in which it was transferred to a 16-hour orbit with a perigee of about 600 km from 200 km. The first probing equipment on the lunar orbiter started Thursday evening to explore the space environment between earth and moon.

The high-energy solar particle detector, which was positioned on board the satellite with seven other probing facilities, will collect data on the space expanse between 40,000 and 400,000 km from earth. Chang'e-1, named after a mythical Chinese goddess who, according to legend, flew to the moon, blasted off on a Long March3A carrier rocket at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The satellite is expected to enter earth-moon transfer orbit on Oct. 31 and arrive in the moon's orbit on Nov. 5. The 2,300-kg moon orbiter carried eight probing facilities, including a stereo camera and interferometer, an imager and gamma/x-ray spectrometer, a laser altimeter, a microwave detector, a high energy solar particle detector and a low energy ion detector.

It will fulfill four scientific objectives, including a three-dimensional survey of the Moon's surface, analysis of the abundance and distribution of elements on lunar surface, an investigation of the characteristics of lunar regolith and the powdery soil layer on the surface, and an exploration of the circumstance between the earth and the moon.

The satellite will relay the first picture of the moon in late November and will then continue scientific explorations of the moon for a year. China's lunar orbiter project has cost 1.4 billion yuan (187 million U.S. dollars) since research and development of the project was approved at the beginning of 2004.

The launch of the orbiter marks the first step of China's three-stage moon mission, which will lead to a moon landing and launch of a moon rover at around 2012. In the third phase, another rover will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples for scientific research around 2017.

Luan Enjie, chief commander of China's lunar orbiter project, said that "China will not be involved in moon race with any other country and in any form." "China will, in the principle of pursuing a policy of peaceful use of airspace, share the achievements of the lunar exploration with the whole world," he told Xinhua.

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