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November 25 – December 1, 2013 / Vol 32, No 47 / Hawai`i Island, USA

22 Nov 2013, 21:44 UTC
November 25 – December 1, 2013 / Vol 32, No 47 / Hawai`i Island, USA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

China to the Moon: Measured Progress, Strategic Ambitions
Chang’e-3 lunar landing and exploration mission to launch NET December 1 and, before the New Year, land on the surface of the Moon to begin first operations there in almost 40 years. The spacecraft launches on a Long March 3B rocket, currently China’s most powerful, from Xichang. The lander includes a 150-mm ultraviolet telescope and an extendable lunar regolith probe. The rover carries ground-penetrating radar that could furnish significant new data on the structure of the Moon down to 100 meters or more. Importantly, the lander itself is huge – 1,200 kg dry mass is 42% scale of Apollo equivalent – much larger than necessary to carry the 140 kg rover. It’s not one-of-a-kind either; a duplicate is being built as backup or to fly as Chang’e-4 in 2015. Up to four other lunar landers are being designed and built to carry out sample return (2017) and human missions (possibly as early as 2020). To achieve this and other future goals China is developing the Long March 9, a 48.9M-newton rocket over 30% more powerful than Apollo Saturn V. It is designed to lift payloads of 50,000 kg to Lunar Transfer ...

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