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China to launch Chang'e-2 satellite on October 1

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A graphical representation of the Chang'e-2 satellite.

BEIJING (PTI): China's second lunar probe, Chang'e-2 satellite is expected to be launched on October 1, the official media said Tuesday.

The satellite has been installed on a Long March 3C launch vehicle, while the third pre-launch comprehensive drill finished on Saturday at Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province.

The countdown for the launch of the Chang'e-2, named after Chinese mythical moon goddess has begun, said Ouyang Ziyuan, the chief scientist of China's lunar exploration team.

The only preparation work that now remains to be done is adding fuel to the rocket, he told the state-run Global Times daily.

To ensure the safety of local residents, officials at the Xichang Centre held a meeting with the local government yesterday to evacuate them from nearby areas.

Experts from the centre said residents within the six km radius should be evacuated for safety.

The main mission of Chang'e-2 probe is to test soft-landing technologies for Chang'e-3 lunar landing mission planned for 2013, which will be followed by a manned moon mission in 2025.

If successfully launched, the Chang'e-2 will take five days to reach its pre-set orbit, almost eight days faster than its predecessor, the Chang'e-1, and 100 km closer to the Moon.

The Chang'e-2 carries a laser altimeter and a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera that can produce high-resolution 3-D images.

The two devices will help find a suitable landing site for China's first lunar Lander and rover, the Chang'e-3, which is expected to launch before 2013.

The Chang'e-1 satellite, launched on October 24, 2007, marked an end to a series of missions, including the launch and orbiting test and a number of exploration tasks, before it ended its mission in 2009.

China has dispatched ships fitted with heavy satellite dishes to specific point for satellite tracking and to provide back up support for the mission.

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