China to take next leap in moon probe in October 2010

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Beijing, Nov.27 (ANI): China's second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, will be launched in October 2010, a top space scientist said Thursday.

The China Daily quoted Ye Peijian, chief designer of the nation's first moon probe, as telling the third International Conference on Space Information Technology in Beijing yesterday that the country's lunar lander and rover, Chang'e-3, is also well on the way toward lift off-the project is in the prototype stage and its launch is set for before 2013.

Ye said the second lunar orbiter would carry different payloads and orbit the moon in a different way.

"It will orbit 100 km closer to the moon and be equipped with better facilities. We expect to acquire more scientific data about the moon with increased accuracy," he told the China Daily.

Tests will also be carried out during Chang'e-2's mission to prepare for the lunar lander and rover, Ye said.

Chang'e-3, China's first lunar lander and rover, is to be launched from a Long March 3B launch vehicle from the Xichang satellite launch center before 2013, he said.

At present, work on Chang'e-3 has gone beyond the planning stage and the machinery is now in the prototype stage.

The scientific objectives of the project include investigating the lunar landscape and exploring the geological structure of the moon. The mission will also help China study the material composition of the moon and search for usable resources.

Scientists also hope the Chang'e-3 project will let them study the internal structure of the moon and, ultimately, they want to build an observatory on the surface.

Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 are part of the second phase of China's lunar exploration program.

The third phase will see China send a spacecraft to the moon to collect samples and return. That project is slated for before 2017. (ANI)

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