Xinhua (via Global Times) reports on the successful launch of its lunar probe, Chang’e-2:
China launched its second unmanned lunar probe, Chang’e-2 on Friday, inaugurating the second phase of a three-step moon mission, which will culminate in a soft-landing on the moon.
At 6:59:57 pm, the satellite blasted off on a Long March 3C carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
“Chang’e-2 lays foundation for the soft-landing on the moon around 2013and further exploration of outer space,” said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar orbiter project.
Chang’e-2 entered the orbit with a perigee of 200 kilometers and apogee of 380,000 kilometers at 7:26 pm as scheduled. There it separated from the carrier rocket.
It was the first time that a Chinese lunar probe directly entered the earth-moon transfer orbit without orbiting the earth first.