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Soft-landing on moon milestone

Updated: 2013-12-17 13:41
( Xinhua/

CHICAGO - China's recent success in soft-landing a spacecraft on the Moon is a milestone in space history, according to experts in the United States and China.

"I am very excited about the great venture that China has undertaken and hope that it will spur greater commitment by all nations to explore space," said James Longuski, a Purdue University professor of aeronautics and astronautics, in an interview.

Comprising a lander and Moon rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, Chang'e-3 lunar probe soft-landed on moon at 9:11 p.m. Saturday Beijing Time. Yutu later separated from the lander and rolled to moon surface earlier Sunday.

According to Longuski, who is also an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), "China becomes the third space faring nation to accomplish such a monumental achievement and has demonstrated that they are serious about making their mark in pursuing the final frontier."

When the American spacecraft, Surveyor 1, soft-landed on the Moon in 1966 -- it was only three years later that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on it.

Although China has not officially announced any intention to fly a human mission to the Moon, the door is now open and -- if they have the will -- nothing will stand in their way, Longuski said.

He believes that China is likely to expand its horizon in space travel and the possibility of sending humans to the Moon is within their grasp.

Prof. Longuski has published over 200 conference and journal papers in astrodynamics including such topics as spacecraft dynamics and control, reentry theory, mission design, space trajectory optimization, and a new test of General Relativity.

Mohsen Janatpour, planetarium director at the College of San Mateo in California, also said China’s lunar project is a breakthrough for all the human being to explore the outer space.

"It will add to the body of knowledge in this field for human being in several ways."

Xie Jiwei, researcher at Nanjing University, said the safe landing on the moon surface of Chang'e 3 demonstrates Chinese mastery of space technology and it lays a solid foundation for future international collaboration.

Chen Jia in San Francisco contributed to the story.