China’s second moon orbiter Chang’e-2 heads for outer space

June 10th, 2011 - 12:50 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, June 9 (IANS) China’s second moon orbiter, Chang’e-2, Thursday set off on a journey into outer space that will take it about 1.5 million km away from the earth, Chinese scientists said.

The craft left its moon orbit at 5.10 p.m. (China time) and will take about 85 days to reach outer space, Xinhua quoted the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) as stating.

The orbiter had completed all its tasks within its designed life span of six months by April 1. Scientists then decided it would carry out additional exploratory tasks as it still had fuel in reserve.

According to the SASTIND, travelling into outer space from the moon’s orbit is the most important task among five additional ones.

“It’s the first time in the world for a satellite to be set off from the moon in remote outer space,” said Zhou Jianliang, a deputy chief engineer at the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre (BACC).

The exploration of outer space poses great challenges to the country’s technology in areas like telecommunications, data transaction and orbit design, scientists said.

Scientists hope the satellite can continue operations until the end of next year.

China launched its first lunar orbiter, Chang’e-1, in October 2007.

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