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China launches first lunar probe
Posted: Wed, Oct 24, 2007, 7:57 AM ET (1157 GMT)
Long March 3A launch of Change-1 (Xinhua) China successfully launched its first lunar orbiter mission on Wednesday. A Long March 3A rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China at 6:05 am EDT (1005 GMT, 6:05 pm Beijing time) and placed the Chang'e-1 spacecraft an elliptical Earth parking orbit shortly thereafter. Chang'e-1 is scheduled to remain in that parking orbit until October 31, when it will go into a translunar trajectory and enter lunar orbit on November 5. Chang'e-1 carries a number of cameras and other sensors to study the Moon's surface and composition. The mission, highly anticipated within China, is the first in a three-stage robotic exploration plan that also includes a lander with rover and a sample return mission. Chang'e-1 is the second spacecraft launched to the Moon in as many months, after Japan's launch of the Kaguya lunar orbiter in September.
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