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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 21, 2007
China to launch its first lunar orbiter late 2007
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China to launch its first lunar orbiter late 2007

China will be launching its first lunar orbiter, Change I, in the second half of 2007, China National Space Administration (CNSA) officials have said.

New Delhi, May 21 : China will be launching its first lunar orbiter, Chang'e I, in the second half of 2007, China National Space Administration (CNSA) officials have said.

"The moon probe project is the third milestone in China's space technology after satellite and manned spacecraft projects, and a first step for us in exploring deep space," said Sun Laiyan, chief of the CNSA.

He said China's moon exploration program will be divided into three phases -- "circling the moon", "landing on the moon" and "back to earth", and the launch of the orbiter will cover the first phase of that program.

The second phase will involve the launching of a moon rover, around 2012, and finally in the third phase, another rover will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples, Sun said.

"Space activities combine advanced technology, heavy investment, big profits and high risks. However, the returns (of space activities) are huge, in terms of politics, economy, military and convenience brought to everyday life. For one dollar invested in space science, you can expect direct and indirect returns of at least seven dollars," said Sun.

In addition to moon exploration, China would continue to research on manned space missions, including a space walk and experiments to link passing spacecraft, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Sun as saying.

China will also build 12 "Compass" satellites, part of a space navigation and positioning system that will provide service to China and its neighbouring countries, and expand into a global positioning system with 30 satellites in the future, Sun added.

"Five 'compass' satellites have been launched since 2000. The latest entered the orbit in last month. Every small move in the space is of strategic importance and affects state security. Space technology reflects a nation's overall power and is an important facet of the modernization of national defence," China Daily quoted Sun as saying.

"But, China's space mission is to benefit the entire human race by peacefully using the outer space," he added.


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