Chang'e-1 is the
first Chinese mission to explore the Moon. Chang’e 1 is the
first part of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. The China
National Space Administration (CNSA), a civilian agency of the
People’s Republic of China, conducts the lunar exploration
program. Chang’e is named after the mythological Chinese goddess
of the Moon (Woman of the Moon).
1 is planned to be the first of a series of Chinese missions to
the Moon. A Chinese Long March 3A rocket will launch the lunar
orbiting spacecraft from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in
Sichuan Province. It will orbit the Earth while increasing its
apogee (furthest point of its orbit from the Earth) until it
attains an orbit for the Moon.
Once in orbit about the Moon, the spacecraft will take pictures
of the lunar surface with a stereo camera/spectrometer imager,
including photographs of the northern and southern pole regions;
investigate and analyze elements on the lunar surface, including
locations of large deposits of elements, and take measurements
of the lunar subsurface, including measurements of helium-3
(although rare on the Earth, it is thought to exist on the
A probe will also be sent out to perform analysis of the space
between the Moon and the Earth, specifically in the region of
40,000 to 400,000 kilometers (25,000 to 250,000 miles) from the
Earth in order to investigate the solar wind and other
activities from the Sun.
(5,180-pound) orbiting spacecraft was completed as of December
2006. The spacecraft contains numerous instruments to
investigate the Moon including a high-energy Sun particle
detector, laser altimeter, microprobe instruments,
three-dimensional charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, gamma and
x-ray spectrometer, and microwave radiometer. The Chang’e
spacecraft will remain in orbit about the Moon for about one
Chinese Lunar Exploration Program
Exploration Program is a program of unmanned and manned missions
to the Moon by China. According to the
plan, the program will go through three milestones:
1. Orbiting: Chang'e 1 in 2007
2. Landing: Chang'e 2 in 2008-2009 - deploy a lunar
lander for surface exploration in a limited area on the moon.
3. Returning: Chang'e 3 in 2012-2017 - a lunar sample
The Chang'e-1 orbiter
has four science objectives:
1. To 'draw' pictures of the moon, or to obtain 3-dimensional
imagery of the lunar surface
2. To detect the contents and distribution of a number of
chemical elements on the lunar surface
3. To probe preliminarily the depth of lunar soil, or regolith
4. To explore the cislunar space environment
space experts proposed lunar exploration program proposal and
conducted some advanced research.
1998: COSTIND formally began planning and definition of
the concept of China's Lunar Exploration Program.
November 2000: White Paper on China's Space Activities
clearly stated to carry out study for deep space exploration
centering on lunar exploration.
January 2004: The State Council of China approved the
Phase I of the Lunar Exploration Program, i.e. Lunar Orbiting
February 2004: The leading group for China's Lunar
Orbiting Exploration Project established and held its first
meeting where the general requirements and development plan of
Lunar Orbiting Exploration Project were determined and the lunar
exploration program was named Chang'e Program.
November 2004: Chang'e Program completed the design and
development in concept phase, the program entered the prototype
December 2005: R&D and construction of a prototype probe
were finished. A large number of key technological problems had
been solved through technical problem-tackling, system
integration and relevant tests.
2006: R&D and manufacture of flight model of Chang'e-1
satellite and launch vehicle continued development. The orbiting
spacecraft was completed as of December 2006.
* The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is
the civilian agency of the government of the People's Republic
of China which is responsible for national space policy
constituting the space program of China.
The agency was created in 1993 when the Ministry of Aerospace
Industry was split into CNSA and the China Aerospace Corporation
* Check the
Moon Missions page for a list of all missions to the moon.
Shenzhou 6 the second manned mission
was launched on October 12, 2005 and
Shenzhou 7 will be launched in 2008.
- The Chinese Space Programme: From Conception to Future
- The Chinese Space
Program: A Mystery Within a Maze (Orbit: A Foundation Series)
by Joan Johnson-Freese
- For other books go to
Space Program page.
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