First unmanned lunar mission set for 2007
China is planning a three-stage programme of unmanned lunar missions, with the aim of bringing back rock samples from the moon in around 2017, aerospace officials said yesterday.
This is the second time in a week Chinese scientists have confirmed the plan. On August 9, Ye Peijian, chief designer of the orbiter, said research and development of the satellite is going smoothly.
Luan made the latest remarks at a ceremony yesterday in Beijing to kick off a one-and-half-month campaign to solicit designs for a moon exploration programme logo.
The lunar orbiter, dubbed Chang'e-1 (CH-1), is named after the Chinese legend of a young fairy who flies to the moon. The orbiter weighs more than 2 tons and, if all goes to plan, will fly for a year, Luan said.
As the first phase of a three-part lunar probe programme, the unmanned fly-by mission will collect information for three-dimensional mapping of the moon's surface as well as studying its mineral content.
In the second phase, scientists plan to put a "lunar vehicle" on the moon to explore the lunar surface in around 2012.
Through the wheeled robotic explorer, scientists hope to
get to know the moon's environment and analyze the composition of lunar rocks,