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DRAGON SPACE
Condition Of China's Lunar Probe To Determine Future Application
by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Nov 24, 2010


illustration only

The chief designer of China's second unmanned lunar probe, Chang'e-2, said on Tuesday that the probe's "fate" would depend on its actual condition when it finishes its mission about six months later.

The satellite's condition and the needs of the overall moon probe project would determine the choice of the three possible disposal arrangements. These include: crashing into the moon, returning to earth or flying off into outer space, said Huang Jiangchuan at a press conference in Beijing.

He said Chang'e-2 had accomplished its various tasks and was currently in a healthy condition.

Launched on Oct. 1 this year, Chang'e-2 entered its long-term lunar orbit on Nov. 3, beginning a six-month mission to take high-resolution images of the moon's Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveiled an image of Sinus Iridum on Nov. 8, marking the success of China's second lunar probe mission.

According to Huang, the Sinus Iridum was one of the five proposed landing sites for Chang' e-3, the next lunar probe to be launched in China's moon probe project. But this would depend on conditions at the time of landing.

Huang also said the development of Chang'e-3 and Chang'e-4, which he called a "whole new kind of spacecraft", was making good progress.

Chang'e-2 was built as an alternative to Chang'e-1, which was launched in October 2007 and completed a 16-month lunar orbit.

At the same press conference, Luan Enjie, chief commander of Chang'e-1, said the commercialization of China's aerospace technologies was still in its infancy.

"We are far from complete commercialization. This will only be possible after we have established a basic platform, which requires us to make greater efforts in basis systems such as carrier rockets, effective load of satellites, and measurement and control platforms," he said.

Huang said the first step towards commercialization of aerospace technologies was the commercial use of these technologies.

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