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China's first lunar probe ends mission
Updated: 2009-03-01 19:28

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 Moon Exploration

BEIJING -- Chang'e-1, China's first lunar probe, impacted the moon at 4:13 pm Beijing Time (0813 GMT) Sunday, said sources with the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

The satellite ended its 16-month mission Sunday when it hit the lunar surface at 1.50 degrees south latitude and 52.36 degrees east longitude.

This photo shows a rendering picture of China's lunar orbiter Chang'e I. China is planning to launch its first moon orbiter at around 6 pm on October 24 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province. [Xinhua] 

Chang'e-1 began to reduce its speed at 3:36 pm Beijing Time (0736 GMT) under remote control by two observation and control stations in east China's Qingdao and northwest China's Kashi.

This was the first phase of China's three-stage moon mission, which will lead to a landing and launch of a rover vehicle around 2012.

Chang'e-1 was launched into space on October 24, 2007, and sent the first full map of the moon's surface back to China one month later.

A dozen performance tests were carried out while Chang'e-1 was in orbit to find out its orbit adjustment capability.

The planned impact was designed to accumulate experience for landing of China's second lunar probe.

"The second phase of the space program aims at soft landing, and the preparation is currently in progress", said Wu Weiren, chief designer of the country's lunar probe program.

In the third phase, another rover will land on the moon and bring back mineral samples for scientific research in 2017.

"Chang'e" is named after a legendary Chinese moon goddess.

Wu noted the success in the mission of Chang'e-1 had realized the dream of the whole nation and pushed forward the development of science and technology. It also proved China was capable of exploring the outer space, he added.

China is the third nation, after the US and Russia, to launch people into space after Yang Liwei was put into orbit aboard the spaceship Shenzhou-5 on October 15, 2003. Another three astronauts were sent into space in Shenzhou-7 and carried out the country's first space walk in September of last year.