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Raumfahrt - China´s Sample-Return-Mission zum Mond-Update

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5.09.2014

Later this year, China will launch a spacecraft to the Moon and back. A scale replica of the Shenzhou astronaut capsule will be carried atop a boxy spacecraft based on the Chang'e lunar orbiter, and launched by a Long March 3C rocket.
The mission was originally expected to simply fly around the Moon on a "free-return" trajectory, but recent reports in China's state-run media claim that the spacecraft will actually enter orbit around the Moon. Then the spacecraft will fly back to Earth, and the Shenzhou replica capsule will make a soft landing in China.
The mission seems to have two purposes. China claims that the flight is a test of the capsule to be used on a future robotic sample-return mission to the Moon. This is widely understood and believed. A more controversial idea, not officially stated by China, is that the mission is linked to future plans for launching Chinese astronauts to the Moon. Why else is a replica of their own astronaut capsule being used for the flight?
The mission is thus mostly about performing engineering tests. Returning from the Moon is more difficult than returning from Earth orbit. Apart from the need for precise navigation, the re-entry is much faster, and places more demands on a spacecraft's heatshield. China has mastered re-entry from orbit for decades, but has yet to recover anything from deep space.
While there's a lot of interest in the simple act of flying to the Moon and back, other questions are being raised about what will lurk inside the capsule. So far, China has offered few clues.
This analyst previously estimated that the re-entry capsule is around 1.5 metres across at its base. It isn't clear how much internal volume the capsule has, but it obviously can't accommodate a lot of gear. Nevertheless, there's enough room for some productive experiments.
This analyst expects that much of what lies inside will be focused on the effects of radiation in deep space. This could be a hazard to equipment and personnel on future missions. Thus, we can expect that radiation detectors will be placed inside the capsule.
This will explore the higher radiation levels found at lunar distances and also allow the radiation shielding properties of the capsule to be tested. Some detectors could be located outside on the main spacecraft "bus" to provide a comparison.
There will also be biological samples. China has been launching plant seeds into space for a long time. They are easy to store, take up little space, and can be studied simply by seeing how they germinate after their return. We can safely bet that seeds will be carried on this mission.
There could also be micro-organisms stored in small vials. Cell tissue from more complex animals could also be carried. Perhaps there will even be small insects such as fruit flies. But we can rule out any complex animal life, which requires large and complex life-support systems. The goal will be to fly items that are small and easy to store.
The recent problems experienced by the ill-fated Russian Foton M4 recoverable capsule illustrate how a complex biological package can go wrong. The fruit flies on this mission survived. The geckos did not.
We can probably rule out any centrifuges being included. They are fairly bulky and complex. There are already enough new complexities on this mission, and biological science is really a secondary goal.
China will also probably fly small flags for mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. These will eventually turn up in museum exhibits.
This mission could easily blast off within a matter of weeks. China has stated that the mission will fly before the end of the year. They will not want to wait for winter to strike with full force, which could complicate the launch and the recovery of the spacecraft. So a launch before mid-November seems certain.
The countdown is on, but China still hasn't said a lot about the mission. This analyst expected more details to emerge by now. Perhaps the slightly covert agendas of this flight, which supports plans for human lunar flight, is producing a tighter veil of secrecy.
Quelle: SD
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Update: 14.10.2014
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China Readies Moon Mission for Launch Next Week

China is preparing to launch a mission next week that will help pave the way for an ambitious lunar sample-return effort.
The upcoming launch of the Chang'e 4 mission is expected to take place Oct. 23 from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center, and will apparently send an experimental, recoverable probe to lunar orbit and back. The goal is to validate re-entry technology for Chang'e 5, a future robotic mission that will land on the moon, collect samples and return those specimens to Earth.
According to China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the soon-to-fly craft is a backup probe of Chang'e 3 — the nation's first moon lander and rover, which successfully touched down on Earth's nearest neighbor in December 2013.
Quelle:SC
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Update: 23.10.2014
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China Poised to Launch Next Moon Mission on Thursday
China is set to launch a robotic moon mission this week, a "trial by fire" test of re-entry technology for the country's future lunar sample-return efforts.
To date there has been little official word on this unmanned mission, which may launch as early as Thursday (Oct. 23). It will apparently send a spacecraft around the moon; on its way back toward Earth, the probe will release a capsule to perform a high-speed plunge through the planet's atmosphere. The capsule will parachute onto terra firma to complete its voyage.
The soon-to-launch moon probe is based on China's Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter design and modified to carry the re-entry test capsule. The mission, which some China space watchers are calling "Chang'e 5 T1," is to last some nine days.
Quelle: SC
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Space launch to pave the way for lunar expedition

Test for technology to help probe return to Earth with soil samples
China will launch an experimental spacecraft between Friday and Sunday to test a key technology designed to help a future lunar probe return to Earth with soil samples.
The unnamed spacecraft is due to reach a location near the moon before returning to Earth, said a spokesman for the China National Space Administration, which announced the launch on Wednesday.
It will be China's first lunar module to return to Earth, at a speed close to 11.2 km per second, space experts said.
Hu Hao, chief designer of the lunar exploration program's third phase, said in an earlier interview with China Daily that the re-entry speed could cause the return capsule to overheat or become difficult to track and control.
No simulated tests on Earth can recreate the challenge, he said.
The space agency spokesman said the re-entry will involve one or more "skips" off the Earth's atmosphere to slow the spacecraft before final re-entry. It is due to land in a central area of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Experts said "skip re-entry" could help to disperse the huge amount of heat that is usually generated on faster descents.
Data from the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration show that "skip re-entry" technology was used on lunar missions by the former Soviet Union.
If successful, the technology will help the Chang'e-5 lunar probe to return to Earth with lunar soil samples around 2017, the spokesman said.
On Wednesday, technicians at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province began fueling the Long March 3C rocket that will carry the experimental spacecraft.
Rocket expert Jiang Jie said that compared with the previous three launch missions this one poses the sternest test.
"The mission requires that the rocket sends the spacecraft to a fixed spot in space. Any inaccuracy will mean that the spacecraft will fail to enter the moon's orbit," she told China Central Television.
Liu Jianzhong, deputy chief engineer for the Long March 3 series rockets, said the mission will have a launch window of 35 minutes each day between Friday and Sunday.
The national space agency said the experimental mission marks the start of the third phase of China's lunar program featuring probes returning to Earth.
The country launched the Chang'e-1 probe in 2007, Chang'e-2 in 2010 and Chang'e-3 in 2013, completing experiments in orbiting and landing on the moon.
China has one moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, on the lunar surface. This craft, launched as part of the Chang'e-3 mission late last year, has been declared a success by Chinese authorities, although it has been plagued by mechanical troubles.
Quelle: China Daily
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Update: 24.10.2014 
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China launches test return orbiter for lunar mission
An unmanned spacecraft is launched atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth.
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China launched an unmanned spacecraft early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth.
The lunar orbiter was launched atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The test spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket and entered the expected the orbit shortly after the liftoff, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
The whole mission will take about eight days. Developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the spacecraft will fly around the moon for half a circle and return to Earth.
On its return, the test spacecraft will approach the terrestrial atmosphere at a velocity of nearly 11.2 kilometers per second and rebound to slow down before re-entering the atmosphere. It will land in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The mission is to obtain experimental data and validate re-entry technologies such as guidance, navigation and control, heat shield and trajectory design for a future touch-down on the moon by Chang'e-5, which is expected to be sent to the moon, collect samples and return to Earth in 2017.
It is the first time China has conducted a test involving a half-orbiter around the moon at a height of 380,000 kilometers before having the spacecraft return to Earth.
The test orbiter is a precursor to the last phase of a three-step moon probe project, a lunar sample return mission.
China carried out Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010, respectively, capping the orbital phase.
The ongoing second phase saw Chang'e-3 with the country's first moon rover Yutu onboard succeed in soft landing on the moon in December 2013. Chang'e-4 is the backup probe of Chang'e-3 and will help pave the way for future probes.
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An unmanned spacecraft is launched atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth.
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The screen shows the launch process of the advanced Long March-3C rocket carrying China's unmanned spacecraft at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, in Beijing, China, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter by the advanced Long March-3C rocket early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth. The test spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket and entered the expected orbit shortly after the liftoff, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
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Technicians monitor the test return orbiter for lunar mission at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, in Beijing, China, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter by the advanced Long March-3C rocket early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth. The test spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket and entered the expected orbit shortly after the liftoff, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 25.10.2014
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China's lunar orbiter modifies orbit
    
BEIJING, China's spacecraft testing technology for the Chang'e-5 return lunar mission, trimmed its orbit on Friday afternoon.
This was the first modification during a journey scheduled to take about eight days, according to a statement from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
The modification was necessary because the unmanned spacecraft is affected by external factors during the transfer from a terrestrial orbit to a lunar orbit, according to the statement. Updated software allows monitors in Beijing to spot glitches during the journey immediately and respond to them.
The orbiter was launched by a Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province on early Friday.
Developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the spacecraft will fly around the moon half a circle and return to Earth.
The mission is to collect data and validate re-entry technology such as guidance, navigation and control systems, and the heat shield in anticipation of a moon landing by Chang'e-5, which will collect samples and return to Earth, probably in 2017.
It is the first time China has conducted a test involving a half-orbit around the moon at a height of 380,000 kilometers before having the spacecraft return to Earth.
The test orbiter is a precursor to the last phase of a three-step moon probe project, a lunar sample return mission.
China carried out Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010, respectively, capping the orbital phase.
The ongoing second phase saw Chang'e-3 with the country's first moon rover, Yutu, on board succeed in soft landing on the moon in December 2013. Chang'e-4 is the backup probe of Chang'e-3 and will help pave the way for future probes.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 27.10.2014 
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Chinese lunar orbiter prepares for home trip
China's experimental spacecraft, designed to fly around the moon and back to Earth, entered lunar orbit on Monday and is making necessary preparations for its trip back home.
The orbiter, launched Friday last week atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket, entered the Moon's gravitational sphere of influence Monday at noon, and is expected to remain there for the next 32 hours.
It is currently orbiting at around 60,000 kilometers from the moon and is making required adjustments for its transfer from the lunar orbit back to the terrestrial orbit scheduled for late Tuesday.
The test orbiter will then maneuver on the edge of the Earth's atmosphere to slow from a speed of 11.2 kilometers per second before re-entry, a process that generates extremely high temperatures.
The eight-day program is a test run for Chang'e-5, China's fourth lunar probe that is aimed to gather samples from the moon's surface.
Earlier reports said Chang'e-5 will be launched around 2017, marking the last phase of China's three-step moon probe project.
China carried out Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010, respectively, capping the orbital phase, the first phase of a three-step moon probe project.
The ongoing second phase saw Chang'e-3 soft land on the moon carrying the country's first moon rover Yutu onboard in December 2013. Chang'e-4 is the backup probe of Chang'e-3 and will help pave the way for future probes.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 29.10.2014
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Lunar orbiter to fly back to Earth on Nov. 1
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Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 1.11.2014 
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China's Chang'e 5-T1 Probe Returns After Rounding Moon
BEIJING — China on Saturday successfully recovered an experimental spacecraft that flew around the moon and back in a test run for the country's first robotic round trip to the lunar surface. The Chang'e 5-T1 probe's eight-day trip marked the first time in almost four decades that a spacecraft has returned to Earth after traveling around the moon.
China plans to send a spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples. The latest mission was aimed at obtaining experimental data and testing technologies for re-entry through Earth's atmosphere involving guidance, navigation and control, heat shield designs, and trajectory fine-tuning for the future moon lander, christened Chang'e 5. The spacecraft returned to Earth using a Soviet-designed method in which it first bounced off the atmosphere in order to slow its entry speed and avoid burning up. It then landed on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia just before dawn.
Quelle: NBC
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Chinese moon orbiter returns from first flight unharmed

BEIJING – China on Saturday successfully recovered an experimental spacecraft that flew around the moon and back in a test run for the country’s first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface.
The eight-day trip marked the first time in almost four decades that a spacecraft has returned to Earth after traveling around the moon. China plans to send a spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples.
If successful, that mission would make China only the third country after the United States and Russia to meet such a challenge.
China’s lunar exploration program has already launched a pair of orbiting lunar probes and last year landed a craft on the moon with a rover onboard. None of those were designed to return to Earth.
China has also hinted at a possible crewed mission to the moon at a FUTURE DATE if officials decide to combine the human spaceflight and lunar exploration programs.
The latest mission was aimed at obtaining experimental data and testing technologies for re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere involving guidance, navigation and control, heat shield designs, and trajectory fine-tuning for the future moon lander, christened Chang’e 5.
The spacecraft returned to Earth using a Soviet-designed method in which it first bounced off the atmosphere in order to slow its entry speed and avoid burning up. It landed on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia just before dawn.
China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation, after Russia and the U.S., to achieve manned space TRAVELindependently. It has since launched a temporarily crewed space station and conducted a spacewalk.
China’s program has RECEIVED Russian assistance but has developed independently of America’s, which is now in its sixth decade of putting people into space and has long-term plans to go to an asteroid and Mars.
Alongside the manned and lunar programs, China is DEVELOPINGthe Long March 5 heavier-lift rocket needed to launch a more permanent space station, to be called Tiangong 2.
Quelle: The Japan Times
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Chinese unmanned lunar orbiter returns home, first in nearly four decades
 
 
 
China succeeded Saturday in the world's first mission to the Moon and back for some 40 years, becoming the third nation to do so after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
The test lunar orbiter, nicknamed "Xiaofei" on Chinese SOCIAL NETWORKS, landed in Siziwang Banner of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region early Saturday morning.
The last documented mission of this kind was by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
"Xiaofei" is mean to test technologies that will be used in the Chang'e-5 mission, scheduled for 2017 when an unmanned spacecraft will land on the moon, collect a soil sample and return to Earth.
The landing site is about 500 kilometers away from Beijing.
Launched Friday last week, the orbiter traversed 840,000 kilometers on its eight-day mission that saw it round the far side of the Moon and take some incredible pictures of Earth and Moon together.
The re-entry process began at around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, with the orbiter approaching Earth at a velocity of about 11.2 kilometers per second.
The high speed led to hefty friction between the orbiter and air and HIGH TEMPERATURES on the craft's exterior, generating an ion sheath that cut off contact between ground command and the orbiter.
To help it slow down, the craft is designed to "bounce" off the edge of the atmosphere, before re-entering again. The process has been compared to a stone skipping across water, and can shorten the "braking distance" for the orbiter, according to Zhou Jianliang, chief engineer with the Beijing Aerospace Command and CONTROL Center.
"Really, this is like braking a car," said Zhou, "The faster you drive, the longer the distance you need to bring the car to a complete stop."
The "bounce" was one of the biggest challenges of the mission, because the craft must enter the atmosphere at a very precise angle. An error of 0.2 DEGREES would have rendered the mission a failure.
Wu Yanhua, vice director of China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said the test mission has gathered a lot of experimental data and laid a solid foundation for FUTURE missions.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 2.11.2014
 
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Chinese probe returns from flight around the moon

Completing an eight-day test flight around the moon to verify technologies for a planned lunar sample return mission, an unpiloted Chinese space capsule re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at blazing speed Friday and parachuted to a successful landing.
Images released by China’s official state-run Xinhua news agency showed recovery crews swarming the landing capsule after it touched down at 2242 GMT (6:42 p.m. EDT) Friday in the China’s remote northern region of Inner Mongolia about 300 miles from Beijing.
The landing occurred around dawn Saturday, local time, and the return capsule appeared intact but charred from the heat of re-entry.
The landing vehicle was expected to perform a “skip re-entry” during its descent, using two dips into the atmosphere to dissipate its 25,000 mph return velocity before deploying parachutes for the last phase landing sequence.
The mission — nicknamed Xiaofei, or “little flyer” on Chinese social media networks — launched Oct. 23 from the Xichang space center aboard a Long March 3C rocket.
Traveling 840,000 kilometers — about 520,000 miles — on the round-trip journey, the spacecraft flew around the far side of the moon and returned a dramatic view of Earth and moon perched in the blackness of space.
On the mission’s return leg, the landing capsule separated from a mothership craft for the plunge back into Earth’s atmosphere.
About the size of a washing machine, the landing craft lowered into the atmosphere twice, bouncing back into space and skipping like a rock across water before falling to Earth. Such skip re-entry maneuvers can diminish the speed and reduce the heat encountered by a spacecraft streaking back to Earth.
“Really, this is like braking a car,” said Zhou Jianliang, chief engineer with the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center, in a report by Xinhua. “The faster you drive, the longer the distance you need to bring the car to a complete stop.”
“The ‘bounce’ was one of the biggest challenges of the mission, because the craft must enter the atmosphere at a very precise angle,” Xinhua reported. “An error of 0.2 degrees would have rendered the mission a failure.”
The flight around the moon paved the way for the planned Chang’e 5 probe to launch in 2017 and return bits of lunar rock and soil to Earth.
Unofficially called Chang’e 5 T1, the test flight validated heat shield technology, trajectory design, and recovery procedures for the sample return mission, a Chinese scientist said.
The landing capsule’s host platform was expected to fire rocket thrusters after releasing the instrumented re-entry module to dodge Earth and head back out into space for continued operations.
The mission carried a piggyback suitcase-sized instrument package on the Long March rocket’s upper stage made by LuxSpace, a company in Luxembourg that developed the secondary payload to honor the memory of Manfred Fuchs, a pioneer in Europe’s commercial space sector.
Fuchs founded Bremen, Germany-based OHB — LuxSpace’s parent company — and grew it into leading satellite and rocket contractor. He died in April.
The payload package carries a radiation monitor and a radio beacon, and officials expected it to remain in an orbit stretching up to 250,000 miles from Earth aboard the Long March rocket stage.
With Friday’s landing, China became the third country to achieve a round-trip flight around the moon.
China launched two orbiters around the moon — Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 — in 2007 and 2010 to survey the lunar surface.
The Chang’e 3 lunar probe landed Dec. 14, 2013, making China the third country to achieve a soft landing on the moon after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Chang’e 3 deployed a small rover named Yutu, which drove away from the mission’s stationary landing platform, collecting images, studying the composition of the moon’s soil and rocks, and probing the moon’s underground structure with a ground-penetrating radar.
Chinese officials said Yutu suffered a glitch in a control system in January, rendering the rover immobile and exposed to cold temperatures during lunar nights, which last two weeks.
Earlier this month, Xinhua reported the Yutu rover was losing functionality but still alive after nearly 10 months on the moon, surpassing the craft’s original design lifetime of three months.
“Yutu has gone through freezing lunar nights under abnormal status, and its functions are gradually degrading,” said Yu Dengyun, chief designer of China’s lunar probe mission, in a report by Xinhua.
“We hoped the moon rover would go farther, and we really want to find the true reason why it didn’t,” Yu told Xinhua in an interview.
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The landing capsule touched down in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Credit: Xinhua/Shao Kun
China developed a backup mission for the Chang’e 3 lunar lander. The backup spacecraft, named Chang’e 4, will now help prove systems required for the more ambitious Chang’e 5 mission, Xinhua reported. Details on the specific objectives and planned launch date for Chang’e 4 have not been released by China.
The Chang’e 5 mission will follow with launch in 2017 to collect 2 kilograms — about 4.4 pounds — of soil from beneath the moon’s surface and return it to Earth, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, told the Xinhua news agency.
“Aside from the high-speed re-entry, major technological challenges for the craft center on surface sampling, taking off from the moon, and lunar orbit rendezvous, Wu said,” Xinhua reported.
China also has plans for a Chang’e 6 sample return mission some time before 2020.
China is studying sending astronauts on lunar missions after scouting the moon with robotic spacecraft, according to official media reports.
Near-term plans for China’s human space program are focused on constructing a space station in low Earth orbit.
Quelle: SN
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Chinese Scientists Believe Recovery of Lunar Oribter Will Advance Space Exploration 
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Niu Hongguang (L), deputy head of the General Armament Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), Xu Dazhe (C), head of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, and Lei Fanpei (R), chairman of the board of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, attend the handover ceremony of the return capsule of China's unmanned lunar orbiter in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 2, 2014. [Photo: xinhua]
Chinese scientists say China's successful recovery of an unmanned lunar orbiter will lay a solid foundation for the country's future space program.
China successfully retrieved the orbiter, which flew around the moon in an 8-day trip, before landing on the grasslands of the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Saturday.
The recovered spacecraft was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It has been sent to Beijing for scientists to conduct further tests in preparation for future lunar probes.
Yang Mengfei is commander-in-chief for the lunar exploration program at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
"We will run some tests on the capsule based on the degree of burns on its surface. Then we will conduct an analysis based on the data using telemetry. From what we have seen, the capsule is in good condition. It has completed the planned mission and fullfilled all the requirements. The orbiter's trip has been very productive. It will lay a solid foundation for our future space program."
Scientists say the spacecraft returned to earth using a Soviet-designed method in which it first bounced off the atmosphere in order to slow its entry speed and avoid burning up.
The mission was aimed at obtaining experimental data and to test technologies used when re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. These discoveries would be usefull when designing China's future moon-lander, Chang'e 5.
China plans to send the spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples.
If successful, that future mission would make China only the third country after the United States and Russia to take on such a challenge.
Quelle: CRI
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Update: 5.11.2014
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China's 1st Round-Trip Moon Shot Sets Stage for Bigger Lunar Feats

Retrieval team members inspect China's lunar test capsule after its landing on Oct. 31, 2014.
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China has no plans to rest on its laurels after its historic moon mission touched down successfully back on Earth late last week.
A Chinese test capsule parachuted safely to Earth on Friday (Oct. 31, Nov. 1 local China time) after being launched on a slingshot journey around the moon eight days earlier, capping the world's first mission to Earth's nearest neighbor and back in nearly 40 years. China became the third nation to accomplish the feat, after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Up next for China's multi-step lunar exploration program is Chang'e 4. While details of that mission are sketchy, it is expected to be the country's second lunar lander and rover. Chang'e 4 will also test hardware and procedural techniques useful for the Chang'e 5 sample-return mission scheduled for 2017,
Quelle: SC
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Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 5.01.2015
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Chinesische Raumsonde auf Mondumlaufbahn zurück
The service module of China's unmanned lunar orbiter is scheduled to return to the moon's orbit in mid-January for more tests to prepare for the country's next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5.
On Sunday, the service module left the Earth-Moon second Lagrange Point (L2) after circling the point while performing additional tests, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said Monday.
A lunar orbiter is a spacecraft that orbits the moon, and its service module contains support systems used for spacecraft operations.
"It was the first time for a Chinese spacecraft to reach the L2 point, and the service module completed three circles around the point, expanding probe missions," said Zhao Wenbo, vice director of SASTIND's lunar probe and space project center.
As of Monday, the service module was 445,000 kilometers away from Earth and 57,000 km from the moon. All experiments are operating smoothly.
The service module was separated from the test lunar orbiter's return capsule on Nov. 1, and the return capsule returned to Earth on Nov. 1 after circling the moon during its eight-day mission.
China's lunar orbiter program was the world's first mission to the moon and back in some 40 years, making China the third nation to complete a return mission to the moon after the Soviet Union and the United States. 
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 13.01.2015
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Servicemodul ders chinesischen Mondorbiter erreicht 127-Minuten-Mond-Umlaufbahn
The service module of China's unmanned test lunar orbiter entered a 127-minute orbit on Tuesday after three orbital transfers since Sunday.
To decelerate the craft enough for it enter its target orbit, the service module conducted three braking maneuvers on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced.
"After the circular flight stabilizes, the module will travel along the current orbit at an altitude of 200 km above the moon's surface for tests to validate key technologies for the next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5," said Zhao Wenbo, vice director of SASTIND's lunar probe and space project center.
The spacecraft has enough power remaining and is in sound condition, according to SASTIND. Technicians on Earth have exercised timely and stable control, with the tasks of tracing the service module and system tests progressing well.
The lunar orbiter was launched on Oct. 24. The service module was separated from the orbiter's return capsule on Nov. 1, with the capsule returning to Earth on Nov. 1 after circling the moon during its eight-day mission.
The service module reached the Earth-Moon second Lagrange Point (L2) in late November and left the L2 point on Jan. 4 after completing all preset scientific tasks.
The orbiter is a test run for the final chapter of China's three step lunar program -- orbiting, landing and returning.
The obtained data and validated re-entry technology will be used for the development of Chang'e-5, which is slated for launch around 2017.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 14.01.2015
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China puts spacecraft into orbit around the Moon
A mosaic of images taken by China's Chang'e 5-T1 probe as it sailed behind the Moon shows the Earth (centre) and its natural satellite in its several phases and positions. Image credit: China National Space Agency
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Chinese space engineers graduated to a yet another level of sophistication in navigating the lunar neighbourhood this week after placing a spacecraft into orbit around our natural satellite. The Chang’e 5-T1 experimental probe successfully completed three days of orbital manoeuvres on Tuesday, 13 January, entering its final orbit around the Moon just 200 km (125 miles) above its cratered surface, China’s official Xinhua news agency said. The State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) confirmed that all engine firings on board the probe were successful and the spacecraft was in good condition and under control.  Although China had previously mastered lunar orbiting and landing missions, Chang’e 5-T1 arrived at the Moon not from Earth, but from a region behind it, following an extremely complex trip through deep space. The experimental spacecraft was first launched on 24 October and, after an eight-day mission, it made a loop around the Moon and returned into the Earth's vicinity. At that point, a heatshield-protected capsule, closely resembling a scaled down copy of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft separated from the mothership. The capsule then reentered the Earth's atmosphere and landed, demonstrating the capability to return soil samples from the Moon—a major goal of the Chinese lunar exploration program. In the meantime, the box-shaped main spacecraft flew by the home planet and then revisited the lunar neighborhood. There, it manoeuvred itself into the so-called Lagrange L2 point, one of five areas within the Earth-Moon tandem where gravitational forces of two celestial bodies cancel each other out. As a result, the spacecraft can "hang" in some lagrangian points without use of much propellant. The L2 point, where Chang'e arrived on 27 November, is considered especially important for the future lunar explorers, because of its perfect position for establishing communications between the Earth and practically anywhere on the far side of the Moon. After a month-and-a-half-long spin around the L2 point 421,000 km (260,000 miles) away from the Earth, Chang'e 5-T1 left it on 4 January heading to the Moon 63,000 km (39,000 miles) away.  At 03:00 Beijing Time on Sunday (19:00 UTC on Saturday), the Chang’e 5-T1 spacecraft first eased itself into a 200 by 5,300-km lunar orbit with three engine firings. This initial egg-shaped orbit required around eight hours to make a single revolution around the Moon. The probe then fired its engines again on Monday and Tuesday settling in a 200-km (125-mile) final orbit, where it needs just two hours and seven minutes for each full circle. As a result, the Chang'e 5-T1 mission demonstrated not only the technologies for the immediate next step in the program—the return of soil samples—but also gave Chinese flight controllers an opportunity to practice intricate navigation techniques for future planetary missions. According to the current schedule, the soil-scooping Chang'e-5 spacecraft will be launched around 2017.
Quelle: SEN
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Update: 8.02.2015
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China's lunar probe tests orbit for moon sampling
BEIJING, The service module of China's unmanned test lunar orbiter has finished tests of orbiting technologies needed in a future sampling mission on the Moon.
The orbiter conducted three times of tests between Friday and Saturday to modulate the speed, height and orbit in a simulative moon sampling mission, according to a statement of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense on Sunday.
Such technologies will possibly be used in the country's next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5.
The Chang'e-5 probe, expected for launch in 2017, will be tasked with landing on the moon, collecting samples and returning to Earth.
The current lunar orbiter was launched on Oct. 24, 2014. The orbiter's return capsule has returned to Earth in November after circling the moon during an eight-day mission while the service module continues its moon flight to carry out some preset scientific tasks.
Quelle: Xinhua


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