Special report: China launches moon orbiter
BEIJING, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Chang'e-1, China's first lunar probe, impacted the moon at 4:13 p.m. Beijing Time (0813 GMT) Sunday, said sources with the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
The satellite ended its 16-month mission Sunday when it hit the lunar surface at 1.50 degrees south latitude and 52.36 degrees east longitude.
An artist image shows China's lunar orbiter Chang'e I impacted the moon.(people.com.cn)
Chang'e-1 began to reduce its speed at 3:36 p.m.
Beijing Time (0736 GMT) under remote control by two observation and control
stations in east China's Qingdao and northwest China's Kashi.
This was the first phase of China's three-stage moon
mission, which will lead to a landing and launch of a rover vehicle around 2012.
Chang'e-1 was launched into space on Oct. 24, 2007,
and sent the first full map of the moon's surface back to China one month later.
An artist image shows China's lunar
orbiter Chang'e I impacted the moon.(people.com.cn)
A dozen performance tests were carried out while
Chang'e-1 was in orbit to find out its orbit adjustment capability.
The planned impact was designed to accumulate
experience for landing of China's second lunar probe.
"The second phase of the space program aims at soft
landing, and the preparation is currently in progress", said Wu Weiren, chief
designer of the country's lunar probe program.
In the third phase, another rover will land on the
moon and bring back mineral samples for scientific research in 2017.
"Chang'e" is named after a legendary Chinese moon
Wu noted the success in the mission of Chang'e-1 had
realized the dream of the whole nation and pushed forward the development of
science and technology. It also proved China was capable of exploring the outer
space, he added.
China is the third nation, after the U.S. and Russia,
to launch people into space after Yang Liwei was put into orbit aboard the
spaceship Shenzhou-5 on October 15, 2003. Another three astronauts were sent
into space in Shenzhou-7 and carried out the country's first space walk in
September of last year.
This photo shows a rendering picture of
China's lunar orbiter Chang'e I. China is planning to launch its first
moon orbiter at around 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 from the Xichang Satellite Launch
Center in Sichuan Province.(Xinhua Photo)