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First China Mission To Moon To Launch By Year End

Photo taken on April 1, 2007 shows a MR-2 "lunar vehicle" displayed at the Shanghai Aerospace Administration in Shanghai, east China. The "lunar vehicle" robot, which can move at a speed of 100 meters per hour, will start its exploration with China 's first moon landing probe as the second part of China's three- phase moon exploration program. (Xinhua Photo/Chen Fei)
by Staff Writers
Beijing (Xinhua) May 22, 2007
China was "losing no time" in preparing its first lunar orbiter, Chang'e I, which will most likely be launched in the second half of 2007, a space official said here on Sunday. "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 China National Space Administration.

Sun, also vice director of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defence, made the remarks when briefing students at Beijing Jiaotong university on China's space program.

China's moon exploration program is divided into three phases -- "circling the moon", "landing on the moon" and "back to earth", said Sun.

The launch of the orbiter is the first phase of China's moon exploration program, and the second phase will involve the launching of a moon rover, he said.

Earlier reports said the moon rover will be launched around 2012.

In the third phase, another rover will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples, Sun said.

"Space technology reflects a nation's overall power and is an important facet of the modernization of national defense," he said.

Sun said China is able to research, produce and shoot ground-to-ground, air defense and coastal defense missiles, and its strategic nuclear deterrent is a key component of China's national defense.

"As late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping pointed out, if China had no atomic bombs or hydrogen bombs and had not launched its first satellite since the 1960s, China could not be called an influential country and would not enjoy the same international status," he said.

Modern war relies heavily on information and high-tech, supported by space technologies, Sun said, citing the war in Afghanistan and Iraq where most intelligence gathering, military communications, navigation, positioning and weather reporting activities carried out for American troops have been conducted via satellites.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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Oresme Crater Show Many Signs Of The Early Lunar Heavy Bombardment
Paris, France (ESA) May 22, 2007
This image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the Oresme crater on the Moon. AMIE obtained this picture on 30 August 2006 - only 4 days before SMART-1's final impact on the lunar surface. It was taken from a distance of 1 100 kilometres over the surface, with a ground resolution of 110 metres per pixel.

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