BEIJING, May 17 -- China's first lunar satellite may
be launched during a fly-by mission in April in 2007, said Luan Enjie, director
of the China National Space Administration on Tuesday, May 16.
lunar orbiter which has been under construction from early 2006 is expected to
be tested at the space launch center in December. And the orbiter will be
launched next April if everything functions well", the Wuhan-based Changjiang
Daily quoted Luan as saying.
|Luan Enjie, chief commander of China's lunar
orbiting program, speaks at a lecture on the development of China's space
flight and moon probe at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan,
central China's Hubei Province on May 16, 2006.
The moon probe project will achieve three firsts for
space exploration. The lunar orbiter will finish the five-hour fly-by without
detection from the ground, it will receive signals from the moon using the
world's smallest antenna and it will find the best surveying station for
approaching the moon.
Luan, also chief commander of China's lunar orbiting
program, was speaking at a lecture on the development of China's space flight
and moon probe at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, central China's
"During the last two years, scientists have made
great achievement in moon probe research and the main engineering roadblock has
been tackled", Luan said.
The programme is dubbed the "Chang'e Project," and
the first lunar orbiter is named "Chang'e-I," referring to an ancient Chinese
legend about the fairy Chang'e who flies to the moon.
With funding of 1.4 billion yuan (US$169 million),
the orbiter, based on China's Dongfanghong III satellite platform and other
mature satellite technology, will be launched atop a Long March 3-A rocket,
according to Luan.
The satellite would obtain three-dimensional images
of the lunar surface, analyze the content of useful elements and materials, and
probe the depth of the lunar soil and the space environment between the earth
and the moon.
The lunar probe project will be divided into three
phases: sending a satellite to orbit the moon by 2007, landing an unmanned
vehicle on the moon by 2010 and collecting samples of lunar soil with an
unmanned vehicle by 2020.
"Only after we finish the three phases can we carry
out the manned satellite project to probe the moon", said Luan.