Wednesday, October 24, 2007

China's 1st lunar probe Chang'e-1 blasts off

Congrats to China on entering the lunar fray with the successful launch of their first lunar orbiter!

According to the Chinese English-language news, the orbiter is slated to develop "a three-dimensional survey of the Moon's surface", to analyze "the abundance and distribution of elements on lunar surface", to characterize the lunar regolith and the "powdery soil layer on the surface", and to explore the "circumstance between the Earth and the Moon."

This is supposed to be just China's first step in lunar exploration. A lunar lander or rover is slated for about 2012, and they are working towards sending humans in a time frame similar to our own. In fact, NASA's administrator Mike Griffin made headlines recently when he commented that they may beat us there. China though (at least officially) claims that this is not a race: "China will not embark on any lunar probe competition 'in any form with any country' and will 'share the results of its moon exploration with the whole world' in its pursuit of a policy of peaceful use of airspace, said a chief commander of the country's first lunar satellite project."

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