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Chang'e completes maneuvers
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08:52, November 07, 2007

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The country's first lunar orbiter moved closer to the moon after completing its second braking procedure yesterday morning, an official with the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) said.

Chang'e I started braking at 11:21 am yesterday and entered a 3.5-hour orbit, with a near point to the moon of 213 km and far point of about 1,700 km.

Zhu Mincai, head of the control center, said: "The satellite has entered a closer orbit just as designed after the second braking.

"It is expected to complete six orbits. The third braking will take place at about 8 am today, which will allow the probe to conduct scientific exploration work on the moon."

The maneuvers will help save fuel and prolong the probe's working life by about a year, Zhu said.

As of yesterday, Chang'e I had completed four orbital transfers, one orbital correction and two brakings.

Zhu said scientists and engineers will continue to track the probe's position in an effort to ensure the third successful maneuver today.

Zheng Weimin, deputy director of the research office at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, said: "The VLBI surveying system used to monitor Chang'e I's orbit has been working smoothly since it started operation on October 27."

The VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferonmetry) system, was formed by four monitoring stations (in Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming and Urumqi) and one data management center in Shanghai, Zheng said.

"The VLBI technology being used for the first time has helped reduce the time needed to determine an orbit," he said.

All data surveyed by the VLBI network are sent back to the BACC, Zhang said.

Source: China Daily

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