China to launch its second lunar probe this year

China will launch its second lunar exploration mission this year to test key landing technologies as well as take high-resolution images of the landing area, China Daily reported Tuesday.

Beijing: China will launch its second lunar exploration mission this year to test key landing technologies as well as take high-resolution images of the landing area, China Daily reported Tuesday.

"China should not slow down its pace of lunar exploration even if other countries change their plans," said Ye Peijian, chief designer of the nation`s first lunar probe Chang`e-1.

The country plans to launch its second lunar probe, Chang`e-2, in the latter half of this year as well as send a lunar lander and rover by 2013.

The Chang`e-2 orbiter is designed to test key soft landing technologies for Chang`e-3 and provide high-resolution photo images of the landing area.

"Compared with the country`s first lunar probe launched in October 2007, Chang`e-2 will fly at a lower orbit of 100 km from the moon`s surface, and a more powerful launch vehicle will send it to the Earth-to-Moon transfer orbit in just one shot," Ye said.

The latest signal of China`s resolve in lunar exploration follows US President Barack Obama`s announcement in February that his administration was axing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration`s (NASA) Constellation programme, which former president George W Bush started in 2004 to return Americans to the moon by 2020.

China`s first lunar probe Chang`e-1 - named after a legendary Chinese moon goddess - completed its 16-month mission in March 2008 after hitting the moon surface with a bang, marking the country`s first step toward a moon mission.

IANS

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