China to launch second lunar probe this year

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New Delhi, Apr 13 (ANI): China will go ahead with its lunar exploration program despite the United States decision to suspend its return to the moon.

"China should not slow down its pace of lunar exploration even if other countries change their plans," said Ye Peijian, chief designer of China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1.

China plans to launch its second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, in the latter half of this year as well as send a lunar lander and rover by 2013, the China Daily quoted Ye, as saying.

The latest signal of China's resolve in lunar exploration follows US President Barack Obama's announcement in February that his administration was axing the NASA constellation program.

Instead, NASA was asked to focus on technologies to prepare for human missions to other destinations in the solar system.

Ye said the refocused efforts of the US on Mars and Earth observation do represent a future trend.

The US could postpone moon-landing plans because "they made it to the moon some 40 years ago and still hold the technological advantage," he said.

China stands a better chance of joining more international projects in the field with a smaller technological gap, he said.

The country should also explore Mars independently, Ye said. (ANI)

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