Sunday, October 3, 2010

China and Its Moon Landing

I remember in the mid sixties when I worked at the MIT Instrumentation Lab on the US moon landing program, the only competition we thought we had was from Russia, and China was not on anyone's list. Today China has reported on it moon landing effort with significant progress.

In China Daily they state:

China moved closer to its goal of landing on the moon as its second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, blasted off seconds before 7:00 pm on Friday from the southwestern city of Xichang. A Long March 3-C launch vehicle, with Chang'e-2 on top, lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province at 6:59:57 pm as planned.

The circumlunar satellite separated from the rocket at 7:26 pm to enter the Earth-moon transfer orbit. In less than five days, it will enter a 100-kilometer lunar orbit. About an hour after the launch, Li Shangfu, director of the Xichang launch center, declared the launch a success to cheers and applause in the command and control hall.

The Chang'e-2 mission is considered "a starting point" of the second stage of China's lunar exploration program that focuses on landing on the moon, a spokesperson for the lunar exploration program, said. The probe plans to test technology in preparation for an unmanned moon landing in 2013. Developed with indigenous technology, the 900-million-yuan ($134 million) Chang'e-2 mission will test key components for a soft-landing on the moon. Friday's mission marked the first time that a Chinese lunar probe directly entered the Earth-moon transfer orbit without orbiting the earth first.

This means that China has decided to make certain that it peer to peer with the US. Although spending money on space is generally a wast of time and effort after a certain point, China has quite a way to go. This is a major step forward and one would not be surprised if they get to Mars first! The current state of NASA is worse than the CIA, filled with many who often could not get jobs elsewhere. This should be left to private industry and the Military. After all did not the current Administrator state that his current mission as per the current Chief executive is to build up the morale of the Arabs! I suspect China has other motives.