China reaches for the moon: spacecraft takes off for first moon landing

China reaches for the moon: spacecraft takes off for first moon landing

19 minutes later, the moon probe separated from the rocket and ignited its engine to set off on its week-long journey. China’s first moon landing is on 14. December planned in the "bay of rainbows" (sinus iridum) – one of the most beautiful lunar landscapes.

China became the third nation to land on the moon, after the U.S. And the former soviet union. A lunar vehicle called "jade rabbit" (yutu) is to explore the surface. The six-wheeled, 140-kilogram rover will be remotely piloted for three months and will also search for raw materials, the state agency said. The "jade rabbit" can travel 200 meters per hour. The last time the soviet union landed a probe on the earth satellite was 37 years ago in august 1976 with luna 24.

The launch of the spacecraft took place in "ideal weather conditions" with temperatures slightly below zero degrees and little wind in xichang. The engines and rocket stages separated smoothly from the rocket a few minutes after liftoff. All systems functioning "normally," ground control reported. The state television after half an hour spoke of a "success".

Immediately after the launch of "chang’e 3", the european space agency (ESA) wanted to track the flight from the kourou space station in french guiana and pass on control commands. Support is coordinated from the control center in darmstadt, germany. "International cooperation like this is necessary for future explorations of planets, moons or asteroids and is beneficial for everyone – whether it is manned or unmanned flights," said spaceflight director and former german astronaut thomas reiter.

The landing on the moon and the lunar vehicle will be remotely controlled via two chinese stations in kashi in the far west of china and in northeastern jiamusi. Measurements are then made using esa antennas in ceberos, spain, and new norcia, australia, to help the chinese pinpoint the exact location of the lunar rides. A return to earth with rock samples is planned by china only in case of future moon landings until 2017 at the latest.

It was the 25. Launch of a rocket of the "long march 3B" type. With a diameter of more than three meters and a height of 56 meters, the rocket is the most stable model to date. The spaceships of the moon program are named after the legendary chinese moon fairy "chang’e. According to an online poll, the lunar vehicle was given the name of her "jade rabbit", with which, according to legend, she squats on the moon.

The spacecraft will be able to hover about 100 meters above the surface, unlike earlier U.S. And soviet lunar missions, to avoid obstacles and select a suitable landing site. "Chang’e" is equipped with precise and fast-response sensors to analyze motion and environment, xinhua wrote. The "bay of rainbows," popular among moon watchers, is flat, it says, which helps communication. There is also plenty of sunshine for the solar sails to produce electricity.

China pursues an ambitious space program. It plans to build a space station that may be the only manned orbiter in space when the international space station (ISS) expires in 2020. With a satellite network, china is also building a global navigation system. It wasn’t until 2003 that china put an astronaut into space for the first time.

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