The World Ain’t Flat With look ahead to manned mission, China launches lunar rover Chinese spacecraft, carrying lunar probe and rover, expected to land in mid-December By Sharon Gaudin Computerworld – China on Monday launched a lunar probe carrying an exploration rover in what is expected to be the nation’s first soft-landing on an extraterrestrial body. The Chang’e-3 spacecraft carries a lander, as well as a rover named “Yutu,” which means Jade Rabbit, according to the Xinhua News Agency, China’s official news service. The Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang’e-3 lunar probe lifts off from the launch pad at Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province on Monday. The Chang’e-3 lunar probe comprises a lander and a moon rover called “Yu Tu” (Jade Rabbit) which will be deployed to explore the surface of the moon. The lunar probe is expected to land on the moon in mid-December. (Photo: Reuters/China Daily) The probe is scheduled to land on the moon in mid-December, Xinhua quoted Wu Zhijian, spokesman with China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, as saying. The spacecraft lifted off early Monday on top of an enhanced Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. The probe’s soft landing on the lunar surface is expected to be the most difficult part of the mission, Xinhua reported Wu Weiren, the lunar program’s chief designer, saying. “This will be a breakthrough for China to realize zero-distance observation and survey on the moon,” Weiren added. A “soft” landing is a safe landing where the spacecraft isn’t damaged. If China’s moon mission succeeds, it will be the third nation, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, that landed on the moon. Xinhua also said China is planning moon missions carrying astronauts, but the agency had no further information on the country’s space exploration roadmap. Early in September, NASA launched a lunar orbiter called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory. After completing NASA’s first test of a high-data-rate laser communication system in space, the spacecraft entered into orbit around the moon last month and began studying its atmosphere. NASA already has a history of operating robotic rovers on extraterrestrial bodies. The U.S. space agency, for instance, has operated rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Of the the first rovers – Spirit and Opportunity – on Mars, only Opportunity is still working. The rover Spirit was abandoned after becoming stuck in the dirt. Curiosity, the newest and most advanced rover on Mars with 10 scientific instruments and 17 cameras, found evidence of ancient water flows as well as water in the Martian soil.
Jingoism Ain’t Good for Your Health, Yo Old Lady at VT NASA also is readying its next Mars rover. Expected to launch in 2020, the new rover will be tasked with searching for signs of past life, as well as collecting rocks and soil samples that future missions could potentially send back to Earth. It also will test new technology that future human missions to Mars might be able to use. This article, With look ahead to manned mission, China launches lunar rover, was originally published at Computerworld.com. Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter on Google+
A Red Flag on the Red Planet: Chinaâs Mars Ambitions By Ben Evans Fobos-Grunt is integrated with its Zenit launch vehicle, preparatory to flight in November 2011. Photo Credit: AsianScientist Fobos-Grunt is integrated with its Zenit launch vehicle, preparatory to flight in November 2011. Photo Credit: AsianScientist At 2:16 a.m. local time on 8 November 2011, the desolate steppe of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, shook to the roar of rocket engines. A Ukrainian-built Zenit-2SB vehicle thundered into orbit carrying the Russian Fobos-Grunt spacecraft, destined to perform a landing on Marsâ large moon, Phobos. Also aboard was a small, 250-pound (113 kg) probe known as âYinghuo-1â (âFireflyâ or âLuminous Fireâ). The latter was Chinaâs long-awaited first mission to the Red Planet and rode âpiggybackâ on the main Fobos-Grunt spacecraft. For the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA), the launch was a huge leap for the worldâs most populous nation. Only eight years earlier, China became the third discrete state to launch its own astronaut, and in 2007 and 2010 placed its Changâe 1 and 2 probes into orbit around the Moon. With Mars as the next step, it seems that the possibility of seeing the Red Flag on the red surface of the Red Planet is by no means far-fetched. Chinaâs red dawn received a significant push in March 2007, when Sun Laiyan, director of the CNSA, signed a co-operation accord with his counterpart Anatoli Perminov, head of the Russian Space Agency. Its provisions called for joint exploration of the Mars system and included specific language for the assembly and launch of Fobos-Grunt and Yinghuo-1. Over the next two years, the Chinese craftâa cube-shaped box, measuring 2.5 x 2.5 feet (0.7 x 0.7 meters)âgradually rose from blueprints at the Shanghai Academy of Space Flight to actual hardware, and in October 2011 it was transferred to Baikonur for integration with Fobos-Grunt and the Zenit, ahead of launch. According to SpaceDaily, âYinghuo-1 was a fairly low-cost and low-key way for China to begin its planetary exploration programâ and âif the program is treated as an exercise in starting such a program, it should be considered a success.â After insertion into low-Earth orbit, the combined spacecraft would have been boosted onto an 11-month trajectory to reach the Red Planet in October 2012. The minutes, hours, and days after launch, however, created a chain of events which would spell catastrophe. Two orbit-raising maneuvers by Fobos-Grunt failed to occur, and it soon became obvious that the whole mission was lost. The spacecraft ignominiously fell back to Earth and burned up in the atmosphere in January 2012. The ill-fated Fobos-Grunt spacecraft is integrated into its payload fairing, ahead of its November 2011 launch. Aboard the mission, Yinghuo-1 was meant to be China’s first voyage to the Red Planet. Photo Credit: Universe Today The ill-fated Fobos-Grunt spacecraft is integrated into its payload fairing, ahead of its November 2011 launch. Aboard the mission, Yinghuo-1 was meant to be Chinaâs first voyage to the Red Planet. Photo Credit: Universe Today It was a devastating blow for Chinaâs Mars ambitions. Yinghuo-1 would have spent at least one full Earth-year in orbit around the Red Planet, investigating its plasma and magnetic field environment, studying ion-escape processes and mechanisms, making occultation measurements of the Martian ionosphere, and observing sandstorms on its red-hued surface. To accomplish these scientific ends, it was equipped with a compact payload of ion and electron analyzers, a mass spectrometer, a magnetometer, a radio-occultation sounder, and a high-quality, dual-camera imaging system with 660 foot (200 meter) resolution. With the demise of Yinghuo-1, little has come to light about specific future Chinese missions, whether piloted or unpiloted, to the Red Planet, but there has been lively discussion about a Mars orbiter (and possibly lander) to be despatched in the 2016-2018 period. If flown, it will ride atop a Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southern Sichuan Province. Budgetary provisions for Chinaâs next Five-Year Plan have left the mission poorly defined at present, but an August 2011 paper from the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) has yielded some tantalizing detail. The paper suggested that the âmother shipâ would be a multi-faced spacecraft, operating from a highly elliptical, high-inclination orbit of 85-95 degrees and charged with performing chemical and mineralogical analyses of the planetâs surface and atmosphere. Meanwhile, a stationary lander would conduct several days of ground operations, with particular focus upon the identification of subsurface water ice and in-situ monitoring of the Martian climate. In line with the stated requirements of Chinaâs current Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the CAST paper highlighted the benefits of international participation in the lander and scientific instruments for the orbiter. It has been suggested that Chinese and European Space Agency (ESA) tracking and communications assets will be utilized on the mission. The Zenit booster for the Fobos-Grunt mission is raised to the vertical, ahead of launch. Photo Credit: The Planetary Society The Zenit booster for the Fobos-Grunt mission is raised to the vertical, ahead of launch. Photo Credit: The Planetary Society The 4,400-pound (2,000 kg) orbiter is expected to take the form of a three-axis-stabilized âbus,â powered by gallium arsenide solar arrays and lithium-ion batteries. Its instrument suiteâif approvedâis impressive in its scope and offers great promise for an exciting mission of exploration. It includes a CCD camera, surface-penetrating radar, infrared and gamma ray spectrometers, and high-energy and solar wind particle detectors. After reaching Mars a little under a year after launch, the spacecraft will enter a âcaptureâ orbit, which will be gradually reduced in altitude to permit the deployment of the 40-100 pound (18-45 kg) lander. Protected by a rigid âaeroshellâ heat shield, the battery-powered lander will plunge into the Martian atmosphere at an estimated 10,500 mph (16,900 km/h) and will descend to the surface, touching down somewhere in the northern hemisphere. The âsemi-softâ landing will be accomplished via parachute. Although the lander itself will most likely be a stationary platform, as opposed to a mobile roving vehicle, and should endure for no more than three to five days on the surface, its success would be a huge shot in the arm for Chinaâs aspirations in deep space. In the wake of its role in support of the lander, the orbiter will maneuver itself into a âscience-gatheringâ orbit, with an altitude of about 186 miles (300 km), to prepare for up to two Earth-years circling Mars. Nowhere in the CAST document is there any specific mention of Chinese astronauts journeying to the Red Planet, although the scientific agenda for the orbiter hints at the scouting-out of suitable landing sites and the identification of water ice reserves, both of which would provide beneficial information for a human mission. Still, outside of government control, interest in deep-space exploration and footprints on Mars among Chinaâs 1.35 billion people is strong. Two years ago, Wang Yue, an instructor from the China Astronaut Research and Training Center, participated alongside three Russians and two Europeans on the 520-day final segment of the âMars-500â isolation experiment. Operated in an experimental facility on the outskirts of Moscow, the six crew members spent almost 18 monthsâfrom June 2010 until November 2011âtesting systems and procedures and facing some of the obstacles which might someday face a human crew, heading into the unknown, bound for Mars. China’s lost dream, the Yinghuo-1 mission was intended to spend up to one Earth-year in orbit around Mars. Image Credit: Daily Mail Chinaâs lost dream, the Yinghuo-1 mission was intended to spend up to one Earth-year in orbit around Mars. Image Credit: Daily Mail It is true that China lacks an official focus upon a human expedition to the Red Planet, but the rapid rate with which this communist nation has developed its own human space program and raised it to fruitionâlaunching its first astronaut in October 2003, performing its first spacewalk in 2008, and occupying its first experimental space station in 2011-2012âhas been truly dramatic and breathtaking to behold. With a âmodularâ space station firmly scheduled for launch into orbit by 2020, and lunar bases sometime thereafter, there is little reason to doubt Chinaâs resolve. And there is equally little reason to doubt that a Chinese citizen will stand on the blood-red plains of Mars, clutching a blood-red, yellow-star-spangled banner at some stage in the future. The nationâs fixation with Mars intensified somewhat with the ongoing âMars Oneâ initiative to establish a permanent, reality-TV-funded human colony on the planet by 2023. According to Peopleâs Daily Online, by April 2013 more than 600 Chinese applications to participate in the mission had been received, out of a total of around 20,000. At a governmental level, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed hopes two years ago that co-operation with China was one possible route to the Martian surface. âWhen the time comes for humans to visit Mars,â said White House science adviser John Holdren in testimony before the House Appropriations commerce, justice, and science subcommittee, âitâs going to be an extremely expensive proposition and the question is whether it will really make sense â¦ to do it as one nation, rather than do it in concert.â Whatever reality the coming years and decades bring, it can be asserted with absolute certainty that our first piloted voyage to Marsâwhether to orbit the planet, to land on its surface, or to explore one of its moons, Phobos or Deimosâwill be several orders of magnitude beyond anything hitherto attempted in terms of challenge and risk. Technologically, culturally, politically, and financially, the mission will elevate our species to a new level. For when humans set foot on Mars, their journey will represent something far longer, more difficult, and more arduous than even Project Apollo achieved. There will be flags and footprints, of course. Maybe those flags will include the Star-Spangled Banner, or the Russian tricolor, or the red field and five gold stars of the Peopleâs Republic of China. Maybe all three flags will one day flutter together, alongside the emblems of other nations, against a stark red landscape. Maybe not. But when we do arrive on Mars, our mission to get there will have already delivered untold riches, for it will have firmly established usâfor the first time in human historyâas a true spacefaring civilization. This article is published jointly between AmericaSpace and our partner The Mars Societyâs journal The Mars Quarterly.
Chinese Planetary Exploration Missions Lunar exploration programme Chang’e 1 Mission details Other names: CE-1 Class: Lunar orbiting Discipline: Earth observation Orbit: Lunar Launch: 2007-10-24 Lift-off time: 18:05 CST (10:05 GMT) Mission ending: 1 March 2009 08:13:10 GMT Mission duration: 494 days Previous mission: None Subsequent mission: Chang’e 2 Manufacturer: CAST Agency: SASTIND Specifications Dimensions: 2 m X 1.72 m X 2.2 m Solar panel span: 18.1 m Total mass: 2,350 kg Mission payload mass: 130 kg Associated programme Lunar Exploration Project – China’s robotic lunar probing programme that began in 2004. More… Associated launch site Xichang Satellite Launch Centre – Chinese space launch facility for geostationary and lunar orbit launch missions. More… Associated launch vehicle Changzheng 3A – Chinese satellite launch system for geostationary orbit launch missions, 2,600 kg payload capacity to GTO. More… Gallery Chang’e 1 in workshop The Changâe 1 mission was the first Chinese robotic probe to orbit the Moon. The mission was launched o 24 October 2007 and the spacecraft reached the lunar orbit in November. It stayed in the lunar orbit for 16 months before carried out a controlled crash into the Moon surface on 1 March 2009. Objectives of the mission are: Obtaining three-dimensional images of lunar surface and making outline graphs of lunar geology and structures; Probing useful elements on the lunar surface and analysing the elements and materials; Probing the features and depth of the lunar soil; Probing the space environment between 40,000km and 400,000km from the Earth; The Spacecraft Chang’e 1 was one of the two identical lunar orbiting probes designed and developed by CAST. The 2,350kg cube-shaped spacecraft consisted of two modules: satellite bus and mission payload. The satellite bus, based on the DFH-3A geostationary communications satellite, comprised nine sub-systems including navigation, guidance, propulsion, data management, data transmission, etc. Power was generated by a pair of solar panel wings, with a span of 18.1m when fully expanded. The 130kg onboard mission payload package, developed by the Centre for Space Science and Applied Research (CSSAR) of the China Academy of Sciences (CAS), contained 24 pieces of equipment, including a CCD camera, microprobe instruments and a high-energy sun particle detector. Mission Payload Stereo camera with an optical resolution of 120m and spectrometer imager operating at wavelengths of 0.48 Âµm to 0.96 Âµm; Laser altimeter with 1,064 nm, 150 mJ laser, a range resolution of 1m and a spot size of 300m; Imaging spectrometer;
Gamma and X-ray spectrometer working in an energy range of 0.5 to 50 keV for X-rays and 300 keV to 9 MeV for gamma rays; Microwave radiometer detecting 3, 7.8, 19.35 and 37 GHz with a maximal penetration depth of 30, 20, 10, 1 m and a thermal resolution of 0.5 K; High energy particle detector and two solar wind detectors capable of the detection of electrons and heavy ions up to 730 MeV; The Mission Changâe 1 was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XLSC) on a Changzheng 3A booster at 18:05 Beijing Time (10:05 GMT) on 24 October 2007. The spacecraft entered the Super-Synchronous Transfer Orbit (SSTO) at 10:29 GMT and its solar panel was expanded at 10:59 GMT. After circling around the Earth in the SSTO for 1.5 times, the spacecraft fired its solid rocket for the first orbit changing manoeuvre at 09:55 GMT on 25 October. This was followed by another three orbit changing manoeuvres, which eventually placed the spacecraft in the lunar transfer orbit at 09:28 GMT on 31 October. The spacecraft left the lunar transfer orbit and entered the lunar orbit on 5 November. Upon its arrival at the lunar orbit, Changâe 1 fired its thrusters to slow down. After three retrofires, the spacecraftâs velocity was reduced to 5,724km/h. This settled Changâe 1 into its final orbiting pattern, circling at 200km above the Moonâs surface once every 127 minutes. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) revealed the first image of the Moon surface captured by the CCD camera (120m resolution) onboard the Changâe 1 on 26 November 2007. On 11 December, the CNSA published more images from the Changâe 1, showing the far side of the Moon. Between November 2007 and October 2008, Changâe 1 carried out various exploration missions in the lunar orbit, including obtaining three-dimensional images of lunar surface and making outline graphs of lunar geology and structures; searching for useful elements on the lunar surface and analysing the elements and materials; examining the features and depth of the lunar soil; and exploring the space environment between 40,000km and 400,000km from the Earth. The Aftermath The Changâe 1 mission officially ended in October 2008. The spacecraft continued flying for another four months to conduct further tests to gain experience for future probe missions. On 6th December, the Mission Control commanded the spacecraft to lower its orbit to 100km above the lunar surface. On 19 December, the spacecraft was lowered again to a 15~17km orbit. On 1 March 2009, Changâe 1 carried out a controlled crash into the Moon surface under the command of the Mission Control at GMT 08:13:10, ending its 16-month mission. The impact spot was located at 1.5Â°S 52.36Â°E. Last updated: 19 January 2013
Chang’e 2 Mission details Other names: CE-2 Class: Lunar orbiting Discipline: Earth observation Orbit: Lunar Launch: 2010-10-01 Lift-off time: 18:59:57 CST (10:59:57 GMT) Previous mission: Chang’e 1 Subsequent mission: Chang’e 3 Manufacturer: CAST Agency: SASTIND Specifications Dimensions: 2 m X 1.72 m X 2.2 m Solar panel span: 18.1 m Total mass: 2,480 kg Mission payload mass: 140 kg Associated programme Lunar Exploration Project – China’s robotic lunar probing programme that began in 2004. More… Associated launch site Xichang Satellite Launch Centre – Chinese space launch facility for geostationary and lunar orbit launch missions. More… Associated launch vehicle Changzheng 3C – Improved variant of the CZ-3A with two strap-on boosters, 3,700 kg payload capacity to GTO. More… Gallery Chang’e 2 Chang’e 2 in workshop Chang’e 2 in workshop Chang’e 2 launch atop CZ-3C A 3D view of the Laplace-A crater near Sinus Iridium using the data obtained by Chang’e 2 Optical image of Toutatis obtained by Chang’e 2 Changâe 2 was the second Chinese robotic probe to orbit the Moon. The spacecraft was launched on 1 October 2010, almost exactly three years after the launch of the first lunar orbiting mission in 2007. The mission officially ended in June 2011, but the probe continued flying in space, leaving the lunar orbit to explore the Lagrangian point (L2). The objective of the mission is to test six key techniques: The direct injection of the spacecraft onto the lunar-transfer path without first settling into an Earth orbit; The insertion of the spacecraft on the 100km lunar orbit; The flight on the 100X15km lunar orbit; the control of the spacecraft by X-band communications; The high-speed (12mbps download) Lunar-Earth data transmission; The capture of high-definition images of the landing area in the Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows, 43Â°N 31Â°W) The Spacecraft Changâe 2 was built as a backup of Changâe 1, and was almost exactly identical in design and specifications. The cube-shaped spacecraft consisted of two modules: satellite bus and mission payload. The satellite bus, based on the DFH-3A geostationary communications satellite, comprised nine sub-systems including navigation, guidance, propulsion, data management, data transmission, etc. Power was generated by a pair of solar panel wings, with a span of 18.1m when fully expanded. Changâe 2′s mission payload package included a new CCD camera with higher resolution (10m) than that of Changâe 1 (120 m resolution), and a new laser rangefinder with higher-accuracy (5 m) for more precise survey of the lunar surface. The total mass of the spacecraft is 2,480 kg, including 1,300 kg fuel and 140 kg mission payload. The increased mass of the spacecraft and the direct insertion into the lunar transfer orbit required a more powerful launch vehicle. As a result, Changâe 2 was launched by a Changzheng 3C rocket, which was based on the Changzheng 3A that launched Changâe 1 but was assisted with two additional liquid boosters. The onboard mission payload include: CCD camera with an optical resolution of 10m; Laser rangefinder Lunar Exploration Changâe 2 atop a Changzheng 3C rocket was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XLSC) at 18:59:57 Beijing Time (10:59:57 GMT) on 1 October 2010. The spacecraft was placed directly into the lunar transfer orbit (perigee: 200km; apogee: 380,000km) without circling the Earth first like its predecessor did. This reduced the total journey time to the Moon from 14 days to less than 5 days (112 hours). At 03:06 GMT on 6 October, under the command of the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre (BACC), Changâe 2 fired its thrusters to slow down. The retrofire lasted for 32 minutes and settled the spacecraft into a 12-hour lunar orbit. After three further retrofires, the spacecraft settled into its final orbiting pattern, circling at 100km above the Moonâs surface once every 118 minutes. On 26 October, Changâe 2 carried out an orbit manoeuvre to enter a 100X15km elliptic orbit, so that the spacecraft could get closer to the lunar surface to obtain higher-resolution images of the landing spot. The PRC published the first high-resolution image from Changâe 2 on 8 November. At 02:34 GMT on 29 October, the spacecraft restored its trajectory to the 100km circular lunar orbit. The seven-month mission of Changâe 2 was aimed to test six technologies crucial for future lunar exploration missions. They included the direct insertion of the spacecraft into the lunar-transfer path without first settling into an Earth orbit; the insertion of the spacecraft on the 100km lunar orbit; the flight on the 100X15km lunar orbit; the control of the spacecraft by X-band communications; the high-speed (12mbps download) Lunar-Earth data transmission; and the capture of high-definition images of the landing area in the Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows, 43Â°N 31Â°W). L2 Exploration The Changâe 2 mission officially ended seven months after its departure from the Earth. Under the commands of the Mission Control, the spacecraft left the lunar orbit on 16 June 2011 to fly to the Lagrangian point (L2), a stable point on the side of the Earth opposite the Sun. Changâe 2 reached L2 after 77 days of flight, in late August, and settled into a parking orbit circling around L2. At this point, the spacecraft was about 1.5 million kilometres away from the Earth, the furthest point any Chinese spacecraft had ever reached. New tasks for Changâe 2 included to study the sun and Earthâs magnetic field and to chart solar storms, and to be used to test the two newly constructed deep space communications antennas in Kashgar, Xinjiang and Jiamusi, Helongjiang, which would form part of Chinaâs deep space tracking and communications network. Asteroid Exploration After spending 235 days at L2, Chang’e 2 departed on 15 April 2012 to explore the 10 million kilometres deep space. At 16:30:09 CST (08:30:09 GMT) on 13 December, the spacecraft flew by a small Near Earth Asteroid 4179 Toutatis at about 7 million kilometres away from the Earth. Chang’e 2 flew by the asteroid at a distance of 3.2km and a relative velocity of 10.73km/s. It also captured the first optical images of the asteroid. Last updated: 19 January 2013
Chang’e 3 Mission details Launch date: Dec 2013 Lift-off time: Mission ending: Mission duration: Previous mission: Chang’e 2 Subsequent mission: Spacecraft specifications Dimensions: Solar panel span: Mass: Associated programme Lunar Exploration Project – China’s robotic lunar probing programme that began in 2004. More… Associated launch site Xichang Satellite Launch Centre – Chinese space launch facility for geostationary and lunar orbit launch missions. More… Associated launch vehicle Changzheng 3B – Improved variant of the CZ-3A with four strap-on boosters, 5,500 kg payload capacity to GTO. More… Gallery Artist impression of Chang’e 3 on the Moon surface Chang’e 3 lunar lander Chang’e 3 lunar rover in field test Changâe 3 is the third robotic lunar probe mission of the China Lunar Exploration Programme (CLEP). Scheduled to be launched in December 2013, the probe will soft-land on the Moon surface and deploy an unmanned Lunar Rover to explore the areas surrounding the landing spot. The mission is headed by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) and the primary contractor for the probe is the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) of the China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (SASC). The Spacecraft Changâe 3 lunar probe consists of two modules: the Service Module and the Lunar Landing Vehicle (çéå¨), with a total mass of 3,700~3,800kg. The spacecraft will be launched onboard the CZ-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, and will be controlled by the ground via the X-band very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) system upgraded with 64m and 35m diameter antennas. The spacecraft will be firstly parked into a 100X100km lunar orbit. After separating from the Service Module, the Lunar Landing Vehicle will descend to a 100X15km, 45Â° inclined elliptic orbit. When reaching the 15km perigee, the vehicle will ignite its variable thrusters to reduce its velocity, so that it slowly descends to 100m above the Moon surface. The vehicle will hover at this altitude, moving horizontally under its own guidance to avoid obstacles, and then slowly descend to 4m above the ground, at which point its engine will shut down for a free-fall onto the lunar surface. Five locations have been considered for the landing spot of Chang’e 3, including Sinus Iridum, Mare Nectaris, Mare Humorum, Kepler crater, and Aristillus crater. Among these Sinus Iridum is the first choice for the Chang’e 3 mission. High-definition images of the area has been captured by the Chang’e 2 lunar orbiter launched in 2010. The Lunar Landing Vehicle is Chinaâs first nuclear-powered spacecraft, equipped with a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) in order to support its operations during long Moon-nights. The vehicle has a total mass of 1,200kg, and a designed operational life of 12 lunar months. Once successfully landing on the Moon, the vehicle will deploy a six-wheeled Lunar Rover to explore the surrounding areas. Lunar Rover The Automatic Lunar Surface Exploring Vehicle (èªå¨æé¢å·¡è§å¨), or more commonly known as “Lunar Rover” (æçè½¦), is a solar-powered, wheeled robotic vehicle that can propel itself across the lunar surface after landing. The first lunar rover, designed and built by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), will land on the Moon in 2012~13 onboard the Changâe 3 lunar exploration spacecraft. The six-wheeled lunar rover has a designed life of 90 lunar days, and can explore an area of 3 square kilometres, with a maximum travelling distance of 10km. It has a total mass of 120kg, and can carry up to 20kg payload. The vehicle is capable of autonomously navigating around, avoiding obstacles, selecting the most optimised routes and locations for exploration activities. Onboard equipment includes a radar for detecting the structure beneath the Moon surface and an optical telescope. The onboard camera can capture images of the lunar surface. A mechanical collector designed by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University allows the vehicle to collect lunar soil samples for analysis. The vehicle can transmit image and data back to the Earth in real-time. All equipments are capable of operating normally at -180Â°C during the Moon-night. The Launch Vehicle Chang’e 3 will be launched atop an enhanced variant of the CZ-3B launch vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. The launch vehicle featured six improvements specifically tailored for the mission. They include a dual laser-inertial / GPS guidance system which allows much improved orbit insertion accuracy, increased launch windows, and an 1,300 kg increase in its payload capacity. Chang’e 3 Mission Timeline November 2009 – The concept design of the Changâe 3 probe was approved by SASTIND and CAS. The programme entered the prototype development stage. November 2011 – The simulated hovering and soft-landing of the lunar landing vehicle and the field test of the lunar rover succeeded. March 2012 – The prototype development of Chang’e 3 had been completed and the development of the flying example commenced. This key milestone of the programme came 10 months later than the original target date.
Chang’e 5 Re-entry Vehicle Test Mission Mission details Launch date: 2015 Lift-off time: Mission ending: Mission duration: Previous mission: Subsequent mission: Spacecraft specifications Dimensions: Solar panel span: Mass: Associated programme Lunar Exploration Project – China’s robotic lunar probing programme that began in 2004. More… Associated mission Chang’e 5 – Robotic lunar probing and sample return mission. More… China plans to launch a test spacecraft before 2015 to pave the way for the Changâe 5 lunar sample return mission. The main purpose of the mission is to test the high-velocity atmospheric re-entry of Changâe 5′s lunar sample capsule. The capsule will be carried aboard a Changâe 2 lunar orbiter spacecraft bus to the lunar orbit, before returning to Earth and conducting an atmospheric re-entry at a speed much higher than that of an Earth orbital spacecraft. The patherfinder mission will allow Changâe 5 designers to understand the impacts of high-velocity atmospheric re-entry on the structural strength and thermal protection of the lunar sample capsule. Last updated: 17 March 2013
Chang’e 5 Mission details Launch date: 2018 Lift-off time: Mission ending: Mission duration: Previous mission: Subsequent mission: Spacecraft specifications Dimensions: Solar panel span: Mass: Associated programme Lunar Exploration Project – China’s robotic lunar probing programme that began in 2004. More… Associated launch site Hainan Satellite Launch Site – Chinaâs fourth space launch facility located in Wenchang, Hainan. More… Associated launch vehicle Changzheng 5 – Chinaâs next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle system, 25 t payload to LEO and 14 t payload to GTO. More… Gallery CAD drawing of Chang’e 5 The third and final phase of Chinaâs robotic lunar exploration programme will see the Changâe 5 spacecraft making a soft-landing on the lunar surface, and retrieving lunar soil samples using a small return capsule. The mission, expected to be launched around 2017, will pave the way for a possible manned lunar landing mission post-2020. The Changâe 5 mission will be using a lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) method similar to that of the Apollo Programme in its mission planning. The spacecraft will be launched from the Hainan Satellite Launch Site atop a three-stage CZ-5 heavy-lift launch vehicle. It will fly direct to a lunar orbit, where a smaller Lunar Landing Module (LLM) carrying the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) will be released and soft land on the Moon, while the mother ship will remain in orbit. The LLM will collect the lunar soil samples and placed them in the sealed SRC. The SRC will then take off from the lunar surface, using the LLM as a launch platform. The SRC will then rendezvous and dock with the mother ship in the lunar orbit, before returning to Earth. Once reaching the Earth orbit, the SRC will be separated from the mother ship and carry out an unpowered atmospheric re-entry. Once in the atmosphere, the capsule will deploy a parachute for a soft landing in the recovery zone in Inner Mongolia. Two examples of the spacecraft will be built, with Changâe 6 being a backup to Changâe 5 in case the first mission fails. A âpathfinderâ mission will be launched in 2015 to test the high-velocity atmospheric re-entry. Last updated: 7 March 2013 About | Contact | Privacy | Site map Copyright 2012-2013 Â© DragonInSpace.com. All rights reserved