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Old October 1 2010, 07:42 PM   #48
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Re: US retreat leaves China leading way in race to return to Moon

China moon probe launch a success
- October 01, 2010Chinese media are reporting on the successful launch of Chang’e 2, an unmanned moon probe that is playing a key role in the country’s effort to scale up its lunar exploration program.Chang’e 2 will take five days to reach a 100 km lunar polar orbit. It is carrying a laser altimeter, a CCD camera, and an impactor that will be dropped from the probe onto the moon's surface at a prospective landing site for a future lander.This week on, space analyst Morris Jones questioned why China chose to launch Chang’e 2 on a more powerful Long March 3C rocket instead of the Long March 3A used to carry Chang’e 1. Yong-Chun Zheng of the National Astronomical Observatories in Beijing tells Nature that the choice was made because the Long March 3C would get the probe to the Moon more quickly, in five days instead of 12. A key point seems also to be the desire to scale up the China National Space Administration’s capabilities in preparation for the expected launch of a moon lander in 2013. “The key technology about soft landing on the Moon will be tested in the CE-2 mission. The success of CE-2 will provide important technical basis for the successful implementation of China's future lunar exploration,” says Zheng in a message on the Lunar-L listserv
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