China send second lunar mission in space
China touches another milestone in its space program. Its second unmanned lunar probe, Chang'e-2, successfully deployed into an Earth-moon transfer orbit by a Long March 3C rocket. The orbiter take about five days to reach lunar orbit. The time taken to reach near moon is less than half the time it took a predecessor, Chang'e-1, to make a similar trip 3 years ago.
The Chang'e-2 is part of China's three-phase program that aims to land a Chinese astronaut on the moon around 2020. The new probe will orbit 100 kilometers closer to the moon and will provide better resolution image than Chang'e-1. It will study few specific regions in lunar surface to find future landing sites. China is also planning another moon mission Cheng'e-3, which should land on moon in next few years and Cheng'e-2 mission will give important inputs to Cheng'e-3.
The Chang'e-2 mission has reportedly cost 900 million Yuan (134 million dollars) which is much less than that of Chang'e-1 that had cost 1.4 billion Yuan (208 million dollars).
According to state media report, Chang'e 2 launched at 6:59:57 a.m. EDT (10:59:57 GMT) from the Xichang Space Center in southwestern China's Sichuan province.
(1st October 2010)