China's lunar satellite launch open to tourists 2007-09-26 19:50:08   Print

A computer-generated image of China's first lunar orbiter, Chang'e I. (File Photo)

    BEIJING, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Tourists are being invited to pay 800 yuan (105 U.S. dollars) to witness the launch of China's first lunar satellite in Xichang, southwest Sichuan province.

    A travel agency in Xichang, where one of China's major satellite launch sites is located, has designed special travel packages for tourists wishing to view the historic launch.

    "Tourists will have to pay 800 yuan to witness the launch from two observation platforms 2.5 km from the site," Wang Cheng'an, a manager at Xichang Jinying Travel Agency, told Shanghai Morning Post.

    Wang said the two new observation platforms, which will be completed ahead of the launch on two opposite hillsides near the site, are capable of holding 2,000 and 500 people respectively.

    More than 300 people have already applied for the 2,500 places but the successful applicants will have to pass security checks, according to the agency.

    The lunar probe, previously scheduled to blast into space on Tuesday to coincide with this year's traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, is expected to be launched late October.

    The satellite project was approved by the Chinese central authorities in 2004 as part of the three-stage "Chang'e Program," named after the legendary Chinese goddess who flew to the moon, which aims to place an unmanned vehicle on the moon by 2010.

    Built in 1970, 28 satellites have been sent into space from Xichang, the second satellite launch center in China. Jiuquan in northwestern Gansu province hosted China's first rocket launch in 1958 and another facility is in Taiyuan, northern Shanxi province.

    China is to build a fourth rocket launch pad on the southern tropical resort island of Hainan.

    The base, in Wenchang, 60 km (40 miles) south of the provincial capital of Haikou, is expected to include a theme park. A spectators' platform will also be built on the sea, enabling 3,000 viewers to watch the rocket launches.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia
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