Sunday, November 2, 2014

China Gears Up for Moon Mission After Test Lunar Orbiter Success

Staff members load the return capsule of China's unmanned lunar orbiter onto a truck in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 1, 2014. The return capsule of China's test lunar orbiter, nicknamed "Xiaofei", arrived in Beijing on Saturday after it landed successfully in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region earlier on the same day. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)

The head of China's lunar probe program has called for a thorough analysis of data collected from the test lunar orbiter, which returned Saturday, to speed up work on Chang'e-5, the star of the 2017 lunar mission. With the test lunar orbiter landing early Saturday in north China after an eight-day flight, China joined the Soviet Union and the United States and became the third nation to realize a return mission to the Moon. "The mission was realized with stable flight and precision in launch timing, orbit entry, recovery, and all pre-set goals were achieved," said Xu Daze, also head of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, on Sunday at a cermony for the reception of the orbiter.

According to Xu, the mission marked a "breakthrough" in the third and final phase of the lunar schedule -- orbiting, landing and return -- and had heighened understanding of high-velocity re-entry mechanisms, development of new materials and innovative space equipment design.

Chang'e-5 will collect samples from the lunar surface in a mission planned for 2017.

China succeeded Saturday in the world's first mission to the Moon and back in some 40 years, becoming the third nation to do so after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

The test lunar orbiter, nicknamed "Xiaofei" on Chinese social networks, landed in Siziwang Banner of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region early Saturday morning.


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