China’s first lunar probe Chang’e-1 blasts off

By Xinhua

Xichang (China) : China Wednesday launched a lunar probe, the first of its three-stage moon mission, from a launch centre in southwestern Sichuan province.

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The circumlunar satellite Chang’e-1 blasted off on a Long March 3A carrier rocket at 6:05 p.m. from the No. 3 launching tower in the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre.

Chinese space experts, technicians and other work staff, joined by experts from Japan, Germany and other countries as well as millions others from across the country, watched the launch.

Chang’e-1, named after a Chinese goddess who is said to have flown to the moon, is expected to enter the earth-moon transfer orbit Oct 31 and move in to the moon’s orbit Nov 5.

Legend has it that Chang’e, worshipped as the “Moon Lady” for thousands of years, flew into the sky and landed on the moon after taking a bottle of elixir, where she became a goddess accompanied by a jade rabbit.

Chang’e-1 is so far the most sophisticated satellite China has built. The satellite will be manoeuvred for at least 10 times before it is placed in the moon’s orbit.

The satellite will relay the first picture of the moon in late November and will then continue scientific explorations of the moon for a year.

It will carry out a series of projects including taking 3-D images of the moon and analysing the distribution of elements on the moon’s surface.