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China launches its first lunar probe October 30, 2007

Posted by jtintle in Planets, Space Fotos.
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Xinhua, China Daily

Description from Chinadaily:

China launched its first lunar probe on Wednesday, first step into its three-stage moon mission, marking a new milestone in the country’s space exploration history.

The Chang’e I blasted off at about 6:05 pm on a Long March 3A carrier rocket from the No. 3 launching tower in the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

Chinese space experts, technicians and other work staff, joined by experts from Japan, Germany and other countries as well as millions of domestic audience from across the country, were watching the launching process.

The circumlunar satellite, named after a legendary Chinese fairy who is said to have flown to the moon, is expected to enter the Earth-moon transfer orbit on October 31 and arrive in the moon’s orbit on November 5.

The satellite will relay the first pictures of the moon in late November and will then continue scientific exploration for a year.

As the launch began Wednesday evening, the attention of the whole country has turned to the small town in Southwest China.

The local television station has reported that at least 1,000 journalists have flocked to the town.

“Journalists can be seen everywhere, carrying video cameras or long lens. You can’t miss them,” said a local TV reporter.

Local hotels, taxi drivers and travel agencies are all benefiting from the big event, regarded as the third milestone in China’s space achievements after manned flights in 2003 and 2005.

Description from the Lunar and Planetary Institute:

As promised, China launched its much awaited lunar satellite, Chang’e 1, on Wednesday, October 24, at approximately 5:05 a.m. CST from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

China’s milestone lunar orbiter project only cost 1 to 1.4 billion yuan (about 133 to 187 million U.S. dollars). Chang’e 1 is the most sophisticated satellite China has built and maneuvered to date. The satellite weighs about 2300 kg in total. The fuel carried by the orbiter accounts for nearly half its total weight.

Chang’e 1, named after a legendary Chinese goddess of the Moon, is expected to enter Earth-Moon transfer orbit on October 31 and is expected to enter the Moon’s orbit on November 5. 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. It will carry out a series of projects, including acquiring three-dimensional images and analyzing the distribution of elements on the Moon’s surface.

According to Chinese officials, China will share the achievements of the lunar exploration with the world, but will not be involved in a Moon race with other countries.

For more information, visit:

China’s First Lunar Probe Blasts Off

China View:  China’s First Lunar Probe Chang’e-1 Blasts Off

China Daily:  China’s Moon Exploration Program

Video of the Chang’e 1 Launch

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