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Today's Moon


Missions to Moon - Chang'e 1

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Chang'e 1 | image: http://sse.jpl.nasa.gov

Country : China
Research Org : China National Space Administration
Mission launch : October 2007
Chang'e 1 : October 24, 2007
Chang'e 2 : 2008-2009
Chang'e 3 : 2012-2017


Chang'e 1

A lunar orbiting spacecraft, is part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. This first phase is called "Milestone 1: Orbiting (Chang'e-1)".

The spacecraft is named after the goddess of the Moon Chang'e.

The Chang'e 1 spacecraft launched at 1005 GMT (6:05 a.m. EDT) on September 2007 from the Xichang launch base in southwest China. A three-stage Long March 3A rocket was used to boost the probe into space, and the 5,070-pound craft was deployed from the launcher's upper stage at about 1029 GMT (6:29 a.m. EDT).

Chang'e 1 was placed in an egg-shaped orbit stretching from a perigee of 127 miles to an apogee of nearly 32,000 miles, according to the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

In a brief flash of transparency in the Chinese space program, officials opened the normally off-limits space center to guests who purchased tickets to view the launch. The blastoff was also broadcasted live on state-owned television and through the Internet.

Chang'e 1 is scheduled to complete at least three maneuvers within the next week to gradually raise the high point of its orbit. The probe will set off on a trajectory toward the moon Oct. 31 and settle into lunar orbit Nov. 5, Xinhua reported.

Several midcourse correction burns will fine-tune the craft's approach to the moon during the five-day voyage.

After arriving at the moon, subsequent thruster firings will circularize the probe's orbit at an altitude of approximately 124 miles.

The first images of the moon should arrive back on Earth by the end of November, Xinhua reported.

The launch of Chang'e 1 is a giant leap forward for China's space program, which is undergoing rapid growth and expansion in fields ranging from military technology to scientific missions.

Chinese astronauts completed two piloted missions of the nation's Shenzhou capsule in 2003 and 2005. Another Shenzhou mission is slated for sometime next year.

Chinese rockets have also launched spacecraft nine times this year on missions including the Chang'e 1 probe, government and military payloads, and international satellites.

The lunar orbiter is the first of three phases in a broad program focusing on exploration of the moon. An unmanned rover could land on the moon in 2012, followed by a sample return mission five years later.

The Chang'e 1 mission was approved in January 2004, and workers finished construction of the spacecraft last year. The project has a budget of about $170 million, according to Chinese news reports.

Chang'e 1 will create a three-dimensional map of the lunar surface during its mission using a stereo imaging camera and a laser altimeter.

Scientists will also be able to study the distribution of minerals and chemical compounds from imagery taken by the probe's suite of spectrometers in the infrared, gamma ray and X-ray wavelengths.

Other instruments on the spacecraft will study the lunar subsurface and gather data on the space environment around the moon.

China's moon mission comes about 20 days after a sophisticated Japanese probe entered lunar orbit. That spacecraft - called Kaguya - is in the opening weeks of a one-year stint circling the moon.



  • Develop and launch China's first lunar exploration satellite
  • Preliminarily master the basic technologies for lunar orbiting exploration; to initiate lunar scientific exploration for the first time
  • Initially establish lunar exploration engineering system; to accumulate experiences for follow-on projects of lunar exploration.
  • Obtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, precisely ascertain the basic structures and physiognomy of the lunar surface, initially work out the sketch map of the lunar geology and structural elements
  • Provide information for the follow-on soft landing;
  • Detect and analyze the content and distribution of useful elements and types of materials on the lunar
  • surface and initially sketch a map of elements distribution around the moon
  • Detect the characteristics of lunar soil and calculate the depth of lunar soil on the surface; to explore the space environment between the earth and the moon, record initial solar wind data and study the effect of solar activities on earth-moon space environment.



Last Updated ( Monday, 13 December 2010 01:18 )