Another race to the moon

Chang'e 1: China lunar probe
Chang'e 1: China lunar probe
United States, India, China, and Japan have each announced high-profile plans to send humans back to the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 landed there in 1972.

United States on moon by 2020

NASA has a 2020 deadline for returning Americans to the moon. China would like to beat that. At a recent meeting, NASA administrator Michael Griffin said,

"I personally believe that China will be back on the moon before we are,''

China's ambitious space program

Luo Ge, Vice Administrator, China National Space Administration, at the 22nd National Space Symposium (NSS) outlined China's agenda in space.

Generally speaking, in the coming five to eight years we will be launching about 100 satellites. Next year, the country's first lunar orbiter/fly mission is to fly. By 2012, China space planners will be landing a rover on the Moon surface. Based on success in the manned mission area, China intends to establish an orbiting space lab by 2015. In 2017, that country's lunar exploration plans call for robotic lunar sample return missions. China will also consider the possibility of manned mission to the Moon. Space.com

Next step, China's moon probe, Chang'e 1

Chang'e 1 will be outfitted with a stereo camera system to chart the lunar surface, an altimeter to measure the distance between the spacecraft and the lunar surface, a gamma/X-ray spectrometer to study the overall composition and radioactive components of the Moon, a microwave radiometer to map the thickness of the lunar regolith, and a system of space environment monitors to collect data on the solar wind and near-lunar region. Click here to read more about Chang'e 1.

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