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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Mar 8, 2007 2:26:14 GMT -6
China's 1st lunar probe ready for launch
BEIJING -- China has finished assembling its first lunar satellite probe after three years of research and development, Luan Enjie, chief commander of the country's lunar exploration program, told Xinhua Tuesday.
"The carrier rocket, a Long March 3-A, which will be used to push the orbiter, Chang'e I, into the outer space, is currently under testing," Luan said on the sidelines of the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body.
Luan said that almost 10,000 scientists, experts and technicians have joined the program. "Starting from scratch, we developed the Chang'e I lunar orbiter and the whole subsidiary project by ourselves within three years," he said.
Another leading scientist, former commander-in-cheif of the launch vehicle system of the country's manned space mission Huang Chunping, told Xinhua early Tuesday that the Chang'e I will be launched later this year. But no date was given for the flight.
The orbiter will provide 3D images of the moon's surface, probe the distribution of 14 usable elements on the moon, study lunar microwaves and estimate the thickness of the moon's soil.