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Next lunar probe mission: Chang'e-5 is under way

(People's Daily Online)    13:29, February 22, 2016
Next lunar probe mission: Chang'e-5 is under way

China's first moon lander, Chang'e-3, awakened automatically on Thursday after "sleeping" through the lunar night, entering its 28th lunar day, China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced on Friday.

One lunar day lasts approximately 14 earth days.

The spacecraft has withstood extreme low temperatures during the 27 lunar nights since its successful soft landing on the moon in December 2013, according to a statement by SASTIND.

Although the moon lander has already exceeded its life expectancy by 14 months, the astronomical telescope and other surveying devices it is carrying still work well.

The engineering and scientific data it has transmitted will pave the way for scientific research and future lunar probes, and the data is globally accessible, SASTIND said.

SASTIND also said that preparation for the country's next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5, is already under way, and the probe is expected to be launched around 2017.

The development of Chang'e-5 is proceeding smoothly, said the administration's spokesperson.

The more sophisticated Chang'e-5 mission, which includes unmanned sampling and return, still requires technology breakthroughs in moon surface takeoff, sampling encapsulation, rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit, as well as high-speed Earth reentry, said the country's leading space scientist, Ye Peijian.

Ye also said that despite being a latecomer in space development, China has made steady progress in recent years. China is the third nation, after the United States and Russia, to acquire the technologies necessary for extravehicular activities and space docking.

Xinhua contributed to the story. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Huang Jin,Bianji)

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