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Chang'e-1 starts third braking to enter final orbit
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11:27, November 07, 2007

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· China's Lunar Exploration Program
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China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, started its third braking on Wednesday morning, which will lower it to the designed final orbit for scientific explorations.

Instructions for the braking was issued by the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) at around 8:24 a.m.

The braking, when completed, will slow down the probe's speed to 1.59 km per second to put it on a 127-minute round polar circular orbit, the final destination of the probe's 1,580,000-km journey to the moon.

The probe is expected to carry out all the planned scientific exploration tasks on the orbit from a stable altitude of about 200 kilometers above the moon's surface.

Chang'e-1 successfully completed its first braking, which slowed down its speed from 2.3 km to 1.948 km per second to enter a 12-hour elliptical moon orbit, with a perilune of about 210 km and an apolune of about 8,600 km.

The success of the first braking was hailed nationwide as a new milestone in China's aerospace history, since it made the probe a "real" circumlunar satellite.

On Tuesday, Chang'e-1 completed the second braking, which further slowed down its speed to take it to a 3.5-hour orbit with a perilune of around 210 km and an apolune of about 1,700 km, where the probe stayed before the third braking.

The probe, named after a legendary Chinese goddess who flew to the moon, blasted off on a Long March 3A carrier rocket on Oct. 24 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan Province.


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