by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Mar 09, 2015
China has run tests close to the moon simulating an unmanned docking procedure needed in the country's next lunar mission.
The service module of the unmanned lunar orbiter currently in space to trial such techniques entered a target lunar orbit after breaking maneuvers, and flew to a suitable position for orbital docking between Tuesday and Saturday, said the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) on Sunday.
Liu Jizhong, deputy chief commander of the SASTIND's lunar probe project, said that the service module has proven the reliability of key technology needed for the docking of two spacecraft in the Chang'e-5 mission.
The Chang'e-5 probe, expected to launch in 2017, will be tasked with landing on the moon, collecting samples and returning to Earth.
The current lunar orbiter was launched on Oct. 24, 2014. A capsule designed to separate and return to Earth did so as planned in November, while the service module continues its lunar flight to carry out preset scientific tasks.
The service module is operating smoothly and will carry out further tests on capturing lunar images, and may conduct tests assessing lunar gravity depending how the mission progresses.
Liu told Xinhua that the SASTIND expects to test launching Chang'e-5 with a Long March-5 carrier rocket in south China's Hainan Province this year.
"In the tests of the service module, we have simulated three key procedures needed for Chang'e-5: re-entry [to the moon's orbit] at high speed, adjustment of lunar orbit and docking in lunar orbit, laying a solid foundation for China's three-step lunar program -- orbiting, landing and returning," said Liu.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
China National Space Administration
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com
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