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China Launches Second Moon Mission

China successfully launched their second robotic mission, Chang’E-2, to the Moon. A Long March 3C rocket blasted off from Xichang launch center just before 1100 GMT on October 1. The satellite is scheduled to reach the Moon in five days, and so far, all the telemetry shows everything to be working as planned. It will take some time for Chang’E-2 to settle into its 100-km (60-mile) orbit above the lunar surfaces, although the China space agency also said the spacecraft will come as close as 15km above the surface during its mission in order to take high-resolution imagery of potential landing sites for Chang’E-3, China’s next lunar mission that will send a rover to the Moon’s surface, scheduled for 2013.

Chang’E-2 will be used to test key technologies and collect data for future landings.

China hopes to send another robotic probe to the Moon later this decade to attempt to return lunar samples to Earth, with the ultimate goal of landing an astronaut on the Moon.

For the first time in China, the general public was allowed to attend the launch to watch live, however a limited amount of tickets were sold for about $119 USD each. And unfortunately for the crowd, heavy clouds shielded the view of the rocket shortly after liftoff.

Chang’E-1 launched in 2007, and orbited the Moon for 16 months before being intentionally crashed on to the lunar surface.

China launched its first manned flight into low-Earth orbit in 2003; and two more followed, with the most recent one in 2008.

Related. Here’s an article about the 1st man on the Moon.

Source: BBC

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • astrofizix October 1, 2010, 6:44 AM

    ….Chinese moon base, 2020?

  • HeadAroundU October 1, 2010, 7:00 AM

    I doubt that. If they get the sample and get man on the moon till 2020, that would be great. Maybe, moon space station in 2030…etc

  • Jason Rhian October 1, 2010, 9:12 AM

    Yes China, along with Japan, Russia and India have all stated plans to fly manned lunar missions. The speculation is that with the ‘prestige’ of landing a man on the moon going to the U.S. that these missions will seek to exploit the vast resources of energy and minerals available on the lunar surface.

    Now that the U.S. has abandoned plans to return to the moon, if these objectives are achieved, one has to wonder how NASA’s recent redirection will be viewed.

  • Olaf October 1, 2010, 10:38 AM

    I don’t mind who is going to the Moon, as long as I can see it live as soon as possible.

  • hal10000 October 1, 2010, 12:35 PM

    Wah, wah, wah the Chinese are gonna beat us to the moon!

    We Americans been there 41 years ago… It’s time to go farther; to the asteroids.

  • Aqua October 1, 2010, 1:43 PM

    Maybe it will be a Chinese lunar orbiter that discovers a new mineral that changes the world’s economy?

  • Jason Rhian October 1, 2010, 2:58 PM

    Not a new one. Titanium, He-3, solar power and of course water. For those speaking of going on to the asteroids and Mars? One, the Obama plan won’t do it. Two? The other powers that ARE going to moon will be capitalizing on lunar resources that the U.S. bypassed – so that we can conduct the president’s stunts (His ‘been there’ comment shows that’s what they are).

    We only have a few days worth of time on another world. And now we’re to believe that a smattering of start-ups will get us to Mars some 36-37 times distant? Sorry, this is illogical thinking. We need to build an infrastructure, a foundation in space and yes this would include NewSpace groups – but not exclude those with 50 years experience launching men into orbit.

    Commercial space has yet to launch a single person into orbit. For some reason we’re supposed to think they can do better than NASA? Here’s a prediction China, Russia, Europe and Japan will surge ahead as we fall further behind – and then the folks that are now trumpeting this plan – will blame NASA for this failure.

  • Olaf October 1, 2010, 3:43 PM

    I actually don’t think Bush wanted the Moon program but because all other countries are heading for the Moon he wanted to be ahead of it.

  • Ted Judah October 1, 2010, 8:28 PM

    I disagree with Jason. Commercial space has indeed sent people into orbit. The first American sent into space went on a rocket built by the Chrysler Corporation. My father worked for General Dynamics and helped put John Glen into Orbit.
    NASA will let commercial space do the heavy lifting so that it can focus on the cutting edge hardware needed to travel out of near-Earth orbit (where hundreds have gone before) and inspire the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

    Here’s my prediction: China, Russia, Europe and Japan will continue to venture farther into space on their own but there will also be a growing international space venture. (it may be the only way we get to Mars) Space X will be flying humans within 4 Years. The good ol’ USA will continue to lead the way.

  • GBendt October 1, 2010, 11:57 PM

    The Chinese want to demonstrate what they can do, and so they do it. Setting up a Chinese station there would demonstrate to everybody the quality and skillfulness of current Chinese science and technology forever

    They won´t go there for the treasures and minerals. They know we have lots of the same minerals on our home world, and these are much more easy to retrieve here than on the moon. Of course, there is some helium-3 on the moon, but to collect a million tons of that gas on the moon you have to dig up the upper regolith layer of the moon´s entire surface, heat it in ovens and collect and purify the gas from it. Even the Chinese know that this is something beyond their abilities.

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM October 2, 2010, 2:51 AM

    Jason Rhian, who posts here, finally reveals a political agenda in his comments. “Stunts”, indeed.

    Titanium, He-3, solar power and of course water.

    What a curious list of, presumably, “new minerals”.

    Titanium:

    “It is the ninth-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (0.63% by mass)[28] and the seventh-most abundant metal. It is present in most igneous rocks and in sediments derived from them (as well as in living things and natural bodies of water) … Large quantities of rutile are also mined in North America and South Africa and help contribute to the annual production of 90,000 tonnes of the metal and 4.3 million tonnes of titanium dioxide.[16] Total reserves of titanium are estimated to exceed 600 million tonnes.” [Wikipedia]

    It is not a “new mineral”, and we have ~ 10 ky of reserves mineable (i.e. cheap) reserves available.

    He-3:

    Is not used in any industry today, except for extreme cooling, in which case we have a He lack of all isotopes. This can be alleviated by less wasteful oil production.

    And it will presumably never be used, the He-3 scifi fusion cycle is precisely that, scifi. It isn’t feasible for the first reactor generations, and likely not economical later.

    Solar power:

    Again, no industry, and not even a mineral. Again, isn’t feasible today, and likely not economical later.

    Water:

    Again, no industry, and not even a mineral. But most use would be locally, not elsewhere so why even mention it?

    For those speaking of going on to the asteroids and Mars? One, the Obama plan won’t do it.

    And another curious and erraneous claim. The Augustine commission recommended a flexible path, and Obama’s original plan retained enough of that element to make it so. I.e. technological development for an affordable and capable heavy lifter.

    Coincidentally, Space-X capsule is capable to convert to NEO missions, with power systems and a NEO reentry capable heat shield.

    It is the current plan that risk this. The Orion and the proposed lifter is both less capable and considerable more expensive than the original plan’s elements.

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM October 2, 2010, 3:09 AM

    So much for the facts. I also wanted to comment on the politics:

    the president’s stunts (His ‘been there’ comment shows that’s what they are).

    I think we have to define and assert “stunts” here. Obama has, as all presidents since NASA was constructed, a space program. It was viable, and may still be after S&C maulings. To suggest otherwise is to reject obvious facts.

    As for the ‘been here’ comment, it is a political low fruit to capture the thinking of as much of the voting groups as possible. It doesn’t mean anything at all, it is certainly not indicative of “stunts” however defined.

    now we’re to believe that a smattering of start-ups will get us to Mars some 36-37 times distant? Sorry, this is illogical thinking.

    A strawman followed by an erroneous claim. There is factual break of logic in considering such pathways.

    not exclude those with 50 years experience launching men into orbit.

    Commercial space has yet to launch a single person into orbit.

    As already commented on, two strawmen. You seem to like them, but even if you stuff them up a pipe and set them burning, they won’t launch you into orbit. Well, maybe the stuff you seem to be smoking.

    In summary, I don’t give much for the politics in this, even if we try to extract the facts behind all those smoke screens people like to raise in discussions.

    The exception was the Bush plan, that never got the extensive financial support it needed, even before the later exponential take off in resource need. Current plans are all feasible and will, with resilient support, take US and hopefully the international community into another exploratory phase above current LEO ISS exploits.

    The difference is in the trajectory, what the S&C collective does is increasing waste and so decreasing the scope, both up there and here (amount of work, also a social value). For this reason we (US citizens rather) should support the better plan, which easily is seen to be Obama’s.

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM October 2, 2010, 3:13 AM

    Oops. “There is factual break” – There is no factual break.

  • TerryG October 2, 2010, 3:46 AM

    Excellent post Ted Judah. “NASA or Commercial” is a false choice proffered by those who don’t know their history and need only to open their eyes to find examples of pubic-private solutions and partnerships all over the shop.

    Approved commercial vendors will help cut NASA’s $/kg cost of getting to LEO by 90% because unlike NASA, commercial operators are not bloated employment agencies.

    Your prediction about a future international space venture is in line with the successful cooperative model used by the 18 nation ESA. Thanks very much for your post.

  • Aqua October 3, 2010, 10:14 AM

    TL-OM, What’s new about titanium on the Moon is that number one, location. Number two, location and finally number three, location. Its Titanium that doesn’t have to be lofted from from Earth’s gravity at well over $1,000 a pound!

    Say we set up robotic factories to mine Titanium on Luna… What would YOU do with the metal?

  • kennethwo October 5, 2010, 4:32 AM

    China is leaving all other countries behind in the field of astronomy. It is the result of cut throat competition.
    Pure Cleanse

  • Olaf October 6, 2010, 2:01 PM

    They got in orbit successfully.
    Now take the apollo landing sites pictures at hires and put them online to show off to the US that they can have better pictures of the landers. LOL

    I am wondering if the Apollo nut-cases still come up with the argument that NASA pictures cannot be trusted then.

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