CHINA'S bold plan to land an unmanned spaceship on the moon before returning to Earth has moved another step forward with a test craft shifting into
lunar orbit to conduct further tests, state media reported.
THE service module of a lunar orbiter that flew back to Earth in November had been sitting in a position that brought in into sync with Earth's orbit,
known as the second Lagrange point. It had separated from the orbiter in November.
The craft, loaded with support systems for operating a spaceship, will collect further data to aid planning of the 2017 Chang'e 5 mission, state
broadcaster China Central Television said.
Chang'e 5 is being designed to make a soft landing on the moon and collect at least 2kg of rock and soil samples before returning to Earth.
If successful, that would make China only the third country after the United States and Russia to meet such a challenge.
China's lunar exploration program has already launched a pair of orbiting lunar probes, and in 2013 landed a craft on the moon with a rover onboard.
None of those were designed to return to Earth. China also has hinted at a possible crewed mission to the moon.
China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, the only other country after Russia and the US to achieve manned space travel independently. It has
also launched a temporarily crewed space station.
China's program has received Russian assistance, but has largely developed independently of America's, which is now in its sixth decade of sending
people into space.
A scary thought crosses my mind when i think about some of the super powers that aren't so friendly with the usa etc teaming up for a moon program
especially with russia planning a moon base in the next few years. Perhaps a interplanetary war is soon upon us? or perhaps we can see the world unite
to a degree to further our reach into space for the betterment of the species?
"Russia plans to send cosmonauts to the moon and unmanned spacecraft to Mars, Venus and Jupiter, all by 2030, according to news reports.
These ambitious spaceflight goals are laid out in a strategy document drawn up recently by Russia's Federal Space Agency (known as Roscosmos), the
Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Tuesday (March 13).
And there's more. Roscosmos wants a new rocket called Angara to become the nation's workhorse launch vehicle by 2020, replacing the venerable Soyuz
and Proton rockets that have been carrying the load since the 1960s.
The space agency also plans to top Angara with a new six-seat spaceship, an upgrade over the three-passenger Soyuz spacecraft that is currently the
world's only means of transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station. [Photos: Building the International Space Station]
Angara will launch from a new spaceport in eastern Russia called Vostochny, Russian news outlet RT reports. Construction began on the $20 billion
Vosotchny cosmodrome last year, and Roscosmos hopes it will be ready to replace the old Baikonur facility — which is outside Russia's borders, in
neighboring Kazakhstan — by 2018.
Russia's new space vision focuses heavily on the moon. In addition to the manned lunar landing, Roscosmos is considering building a space station in
orbit around Earth's nearest neighbor by 2030. Russia is a key partner in the recently completed International Space Station, but at the moment the
$100 billion orbiting lab is only slated to operate through 2020.
The Russian space plan also calls for sending robotic probes to visit Venus, Jupiter and Mars by 2030.
Roscosmos' goals may strike some observers as incredibly ambitious, especially given the Russian space program's poor track record recently.
In February 2011, for example, a Rockot launch vehicle failed to place an Earth-observing satellite in the proper orbit. On Aug. 18, a Proton rocket
similarly underperformed, delivering a $300 million communications satellite to the wrong orbit.
Less than a week later, on Aug. 24, the unmanned Progress 44 supply ship crashed while hauling cargo to the space station. Progress 44 was done in by
a problem with its Soyuz rocket. Russia uses a similar version of the Soyuz to launch astronauts to the space station, so manned flights were
temporarily put on hold until the problem with the rocket could be identified and fixed.
A Soyuz 2 rocket crashed just after liftoff on Dec. 23, destroying a Russian military communications satellite. Finally, the failed Mars probe
Phobos-Grunt came crashing back to Earth on Jan. 15, 2012, two months after getting stuck in Earth orbit shortly after liftoff.
Phobos-Grunt was the 19th spacecraft Russia has launched toward Mars since 1960. None has achieved full mission success.
While Russia did resume rocket launches after each incident, Roscosmos officials were forced to delay the planned launch of the next Soyuz spacecraft
carrying a new space station crew after the capsule was damaged in a pressure test. The delay pushed the Soyuz crew launch back from a planned late
March liftoff to no earlier than mid-May to allow time for repairs.
edit on 11-1-2015 by Akatsuki because: Spelling fixed