Saturday, 31 August 2013

First moon rover will be launched by China at the end of the year

China’s next phase of its moon exploration program, the Chang’e-3 would soft land on the lunar surface by the end of the year. Chang’e-3 mission to the moon is designed to unleash six-wheel rover to scour the lunar surface. China will be the most ambitious lunar mission yet, according to reports available. If the Chang'e 3 moon rover mission is successful, it will mark the first time China lands a spacecraft on another celestial body.

The lunar probe has completed its research and manufacture period and has officially entered the launch phase, according to China. The carrier rocket for Chang'e 3 has gone through its first test, and the launch pad and control systems are ready for the mission. China's lunar ambitions began with the orbiters Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2, launched in 2007 and 2010.  The spacecraft are named after the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e.

The Chang'e 3 spacecraft will launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. After it reaches orbit around the moon, its lander will fly down to the moon's surface , to a targeted landing site or Sinus Iridium, or the Bay of Rainbows. Then, the lander will deploy a rover to explore the lunar landscape. A Chang'e 4 spacecraft, which also includes a lander and rover, has also been built to serve as a backup, according to reports.

To prepare for the Chang'e 3 moon landing, China conducted an extensive reconnaissance campaign of the Bay of Rainbows using the Chang'e 2 spacecraft. China's space agency has taken a stepping-stone approach to lunar exploration. The program began with the Chang'e 1 and 2 orbiters, with the Chang'e 3 rover marking the next step in the project. After the lunar rover mission, the next goal in China's moon program will be to launch a probe that can return samples from the moon to Earth. The moon sample-return mission is expected to fly before 2020 under the name Chang'e 5.

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