China launches Moon mission | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 02, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 02, 2010

China launches Moon mission


A Long March 3C rocket carrying the Chang'e-2 lunar probe, which will go into orbit within 15 kilometres (nine miles) of the moon, blasts off from the launch centre in Xichang in the southwestern province of Sichuan yesterday. China celebrated 61 years of communist rule with the launch of its second lunar probe -- the next step in its ambitious programme to become the second country to put a man on the moon.Photo: AFP

A Chinese rocket carrying a probe destined for the Moon has blasted into space.
A Long March 3C rocket with the Chang'e-2 probe took off from Xichang launch centre at about 1100 GMT.
The rocket will shoot the craft into the trans-lunar orbit, after which the satellite is expected to reach the Moon in about five days.
Chang'e-2 will be used to test key technologies and collect data for future landings.
China says it will send a rover on its next mission, and it also has ambitions to put humans on the surface of the lunar body at some future date.
The Xinhua News Agency said Chang'e-2 would circle just 15km (nine miles) above the rocky terrain in order to take photographs of possible landing locations.
It is China's second lunar probe - the first was launched in 2007. The craft stayed in space for 16 months before being intentionally crashed on to the Moon's surface.
China launched its first manned flight into low-Earth orbit in 2003; and two more followed, with the most recent one in 2008.
So far, only three countries have managed to independently send humans into space: China, Russia and the US.
In 2008, a Chinese astronaut, fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang, performed a space walk - the first in his country's history.
He stayed outside the Shenzhou-7 capsule for 15 minutes; the exercise was seen as key to China's ambition to build an orbiting station in the near future.

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