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China confirms lunar mission plans
Posted: Mon, May 21, 2007, 7:30 AM ET (1130 GMT)
Chinese officials confirmed Sunday that the country will launch its first lunar orbiter mission by the end of this year. Sun Laiyan, head of the China National Space Administration, the nation's space agency, said the Chang'e 1 lunar orbiter will likely be launched in the second half of 2007, but did not provide a more specific time. Earlier reports had indicated that the launch would take place in September. The orbiter, China's first mission beyond Earth orbit, will carry a suite of instruments to study the lunar surface. The mission is the first in a three-phase lunar exploration effort that will also include a lunar lander/rover and a sample return mission.
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