China to land probe on Moon by 2013

Chang'e 1 is the first of what is planned to be a series of Chinese missions to the Moon. CAST image

HONG KONG (BNS): After the successful first phase of its three-stage moon mission with a controlled impact of Chang'e-1 on the Moon on Sunday, China revealed its time-table to the moon. Ye Peijian, chief designer of Chang'e-1, the country's first moon probe, said on Monday that China plans to land Chang'e-3 on the moon latest in 2013.

Ye, a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, said that the mission of Chang'e-3 is to make soft landing and probe the moon.

The official said that before the mission, Chang'e-2 will be launched at the latest in 2011 to test key technologies of soft landing and lower technical risks.

Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Ye as saying that China’s three-stage moon mission could be defined as orbiting, landing and returning.

“A Chang'e-4 will also be launched during the second phase, which will be concluded before 2017,” Ye was quoted as saying. However, he didn't give any details of the fourth probe.

Ye said the third phase will last from 2017 to 2020, during which China will launch recoverable moon rovers.

Chang'e is named after a legendary moon goddess. “But, the recoverable moon rovers may not continue to be named after the goddess. The name hasn't been decided yet,” he said.

China became the third nation, after the US and Russia to conduct a space walk last year.

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