Chang’e 1, China’s first lunar probe, has been crash landed on the moon, state media reports. But Chang’e 2 will make a soft landing and Chang’e 3 return home.
That is the three-phase plan for the moon mission that started with Chang’e 1’s launch in October 2007. Chang’e 3 is expected to be launched in 2017 and will collect mineral samples. Chang’e 1 provided a survey of the entire surface of the moon. Its controlled crash to end its mission was about testing China’s ability to fly a moon probe by remote control. Landing a man on the moon remains a long-term objective, but no date for that has been made public.
The next important goal for China’s ambitious space plan is the launch of a space module next year, with a space docking in 2011 as the first steps towards building an orbiting space station. All of which means plenty of work for the country’s growing aerospace industry and a boost for the development of its rocket technology.