China is ramping up for the launch this year of Chang’e 1, a lunar orbiter designed to set the stage for the nation’s future Moon-bound missions.
Assembly of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) Moon probe is complete, with tests underway of its rocket booster, according to several state media reports.
“If everything goes well, the Chang’e 1 orbiter is expected to be launched in 2007,” a mission overview, one of several attributed to Luan Enjie, chief commander of the China Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP), stated. The multiple mission descriptions are listed on the CNSA’s lunar program website. [Full Text]
Read also: China reaching for the moon by Antoaneta Bezlova on Asia Times:
When a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) missile in January destroyed an obsolete Chinese weather satellite, the experiment revealed space capabilities that had until then been a carefully kept secret. Undaunted by the diplomatic uproar the test created, Beijing has taken another step in spelling out its space ambitions.
China’s top military defense planning body has for the first time unveiled an ambitious blueprint for developing space science, which although defined as civilian research could be applied for military uses.
Top on the list of the country’s space projects are a lunar satellite probe that will orbit the moon this year, followed by a remote-controlled lunar rover in three years. Other featured projects include a joint unmanned mission to Mars with Russia and the launch of the world’s most advanced hard X-ray modulation telescope by 2010. [Full Text]