The path not taken.
- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
China's ambitious program of lunar exploration is about to attempt a spacefaring first: On 8 December it will launch a probe intended to land on the far side of the moon. Besides boasting rights, the Chang'e-4 lander and rover are expected to produce a host of new insights into the moon's composition and history. "Chang'e-4 is an historical mission," says Bernard Foing, director of the European Space Agency's (ESA's) International Lunar Exploration Working Group in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
China's ambitious lunar program will continue with Chang'e-5, a sample return mission, due for launch next year. It will retrieve up to 2 kilograms of soil and rock from the Oceanus Procellarum, a vast lunar mare on the near side untouched by previous landings, and one of the moon's youngest volcanic flows. "It's a great objective and will potentially yield some fantastic science," says Bradley Jolliff, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who has urged the United States to launch its own lunar sample return mission.
A robotic lander and rover lifted off Friday (U.S. time) from China’s Xichang space center, kicking off a journey through space that will culminate in an attempt in early January to touch down on the far side of the moon for the first time.
The Chang’e 4 mission — the fourth in China’s main line of lunar explorers — lifted off at around 1823 GMT (1:23 p.m. EST) Friday from Xichang, an inland spaceport nestled between hills in southwestern China’s Sichuan province.
Chang’e 4 climbed into the night sky at Xichang — liftoff occurred at 2:23 a.m. Beijing time Saturday — toward the east affixed to the top of a Long March 3B rocket.
On future activities Wu told reporters that China would be involved in the Russian Luna 26 lunar orbiter mission, which would then play a part in potential Chinese lunar South Pole landings.
As part of a new stage of lunar exploration the Chang’e-7 mission, to launch in the early 2020s, will involve “comprehensive exploration of the lunar South Pole,” including landscape, composition and space environment. Chang’e-8 will continue with existing tasks at the pole but will also test key technologies on the lunar surface, possibly together with international partners. The missions were described as being in the conceptual design phase.
More immediately it was stated that China will launch the Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission by the end of the year, followed by launch of the Mars orbiter and rover in July or August 2020.
It was not stated that both these depend on a successful return-to-flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket, currently expected in Q2 2019. Chang’e-5 was expected to fly in November 2017 but was delayed by the failure of the second Long March 5 in July that year.
One of the cotton seeds carried to the moon by China's Chang'e-4 probe is the first ever to sprout on the moon, according to scientists of a mini biosphere experiment on Tuesday.
After making the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, China's Chang'e-4 mission pioneered the first mini biosphere experiment on the moon.
Professor Xie Gengxin, of Chongqing University and chief designer of the experiment, said a canister installed on the lander of the Chang'e-4 probe contained the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato, and arabidopsis, as well as eggs of the fruit fly and some yeast, to form a simple mini biosphere.
Yeah, now we'll see how long their biological payload will be able to survive. They planned a small ecosystem in it where plant payload will feed bunch of silkworms which in turn produces the CO2 needed by plant for photosynthesis and make O2.FighterJock said:I did not realize that China had put seeds on board Chang'e-4, interesting that they have survived the journey to the moon and now have sprouted. B)
Looks to me like they are making equivalent to US DSN. Maintaining contact with their space probes and maybe improving their targeting capability of anti ship ballistic missile.Flyaway said:Reuters: China's military-run space station in Argentina is a 'black box'
China will follow up on its successful mission to the far side of the moon by sending a probe to Mars next year, one of the country's top space scientists said Sunday.
Speaking ahead of the opening of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a major political event in Beijing, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar exploration program, said the red planet was the natural next step.
"Over the past 60 years, we've made a lot of achievements, but there is still a large distance from the world space powers. We must speed up our pace," he said. "Next year, we will launch a Mars probe, which will orbit around the Mars, land on it and probe it."
Chinese astronauts were supposed to be walking on the Moon by now. Back in 2005, if you read numerous articles about the Chinese space program, you would have noticed various authors claiming that China was going to land taikonauts on the Moon in 2017, and at least one article claimed this would happen as early as 2010. Two common themes that began appearing in space articles back then were that China had an active human lunar program, and they were in a “race” with the United States to send people to the surface of the Moon, neither of which was true. Articles in The Space Review over a decade ago warned about these distortions.
Back in 2005, if you read numerous articles about the Chinese space program, you would have noticed various authors claiming that China was going to land taikonauts on the Moon in 2017, and at least one article claimed this would happen as early as 2010.
Unfortunately, today’s reporting and pontificating about China’s civil space program is filled with similar distortions which have far more to do with the biases of the writers than what is actually happening with China’s civilian space program. After the landing of China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft on the lunar farside in early January, there were numerous articles making extravagant claims about what this event meant and how it was a harbinger of future Chinese activities. Sometimes, the same writers making bad claims about China today were making bad claims back in 2005.
The second orbital launch attempt for a private Chinese company has failed. OneSpace Tech’s OS-M Chongqing launch vehicle was attempting to orbit the small Lingque-1B technology demonstration satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The launch took place at 09:32 UTC but failed shortly after entering second stage flight.
Calling for SETI observations at radio and optical wavelengths, as well as lighting up the objects with planetary radar, Benford gives a nod to Ronald Bracewell, who speculated that one way for an extraterrestrial intelligence to study a stellar system would be to plant a probe within it that could inform the home civilization about events there. The Earth co-orbitals are made to order for such observation, so why not give them a look with all the tools in our SETI arsenal?
According to Liu Jizhong, director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the current plan is to study 2016 HO3 from space before landing on it to collect samples for return to Earth. Following delivery of the sample return capsule, the probe is to proceed to comet 133P by means of gravity assists at Earth and Mars, in a mission lasting on the order of 10 years.
Six experiments have been granted a place aboard to the future Chinese Space Station through a joint international cooperation initiative, with three more receiving conditional acceptance.
The UNOOSA-CMSA initiative received 42 applications from organizations in 27 countries following an Announcement of Opportunity issued in May 2018. The winning institutions are based in a wide range of countries, namely Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Switzerland.