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Long March III A chosen for lunar mission
Updated: 2004-03-22 08:37

China has decided to use a Long March III A carrier rocket to launch the satellite in its lunar probe project, said sources with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).

The Long March III A was chosen for this mission because it enjoys the highest success rate among the Long March series of launch vehicles, according to the CALT.

Cen Zheng, chief commander of Long March III A, said that some technological improvements need to be made to this type of carrierrocket so as to meet the demands of the lunar probe satellite for a successful launch.

The rocket, improvements of which expected to be completed in two years, is now being further developed and some modules and itsmain body have been put into production.

China's lunar probe project, also known as the Chang'e Program,referring to a goddess who reached the moon in an ancient Chinese fairy tale, will be divided into three phases.

The first phase of the program, with funding of 1.4 billion yuan (about 170 million US dollars), has got underway for sending a satellite to orbit the moon by 2007.

It would be followed by the landing of an unmanned vehicle on the moon in the second stage by 2010 and collecting samples of lunar soil with an unmanned vehicle by 2020 in the third phase.

The satellite would obtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, analyze the content of useful elements and materials, and probe the depth of the lunar soil and the space environment between the earth and the moon.

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