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Expert: China to launch first lunar orbiter this year

Source: Xinhuanet | 03-06-2007 14:28

Special Report:   2007 NPC & CPPCC sessions

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- China will launch its first lunar exploration satellite, Chang'e I, in the latter half of this year, a leading Chinese aerospace expert said Tuesday.

The satellite will be raised into space by a Long March 3-A carrier rocket, Huang Chunping, former commander-in-cheif of the launch vehicle system of the country's manned space mission, told Xinhua.

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.

Huang also said the country's new generation of carrier rocket, designed to launch a space station, will be ready in seven to eight year.

The new generation of large-scale carrier rocket is likely to be named Long March 5 and its delivery capacity can be increased from nine tons to 25 tons, he said.

Design of the carrier rocket's engines has been completed. Researchers succeeded in the engine's first testing in mid-2006, said Huang, also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Huang said China is 15 years lacked behind the United States and Russia in rocket technology. "But with our efforts, we can catch up with the U.S. and Russia in this area in 15 years."

China's moon exploration program will be carried out in three stages. The orbiter will be followed by a remote-controlled lunar rover. In the third phase, a module will drill out a chunk of the moon and bring it back to Earth.


Editor:Du Xiaodan