The Chang'e 3

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The Chang'e 3 (嫦娥三号) is a lunar probe in the second phase of the Chang'e 3 Program under the China National Space Administration.

The Chang'e 3 is composed of a lander and a lunar rover called "Yutu" (Jade Rabbit) -- the "Chinese brand" moon vehicle. The lunar probe will land on the moon in mid-December if everything goes according to plan.

It will be the first soft-landing by a Chinese orbiter on a celestial body. It will collect interior samples from the moon for analysis, extending the Chang'e program from the surface exploration of the first phase. While the lander waits, the rover will explore the surface of the moon for 90 days. The data collected will be sent directly back to the Earth.

Since February 2008 when the Chang'e 3 mission was authorized, it has gone through three phases -- 21 months of blueprint design, 26 months of prototype sample research and development and 20 months of flight model phase research and development.

On August 28 2013, the China National Space Administration announced that the leading group for the lunar probe project had examined and approved the Chang'e 3 mission's launch. It also announced that the Chang'e 3 is scheduled to be launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at a selected date at the end of 2013.

On Sept. 11, 2013, all the parts of the Chang'e 3 lunar probe were loaded on freight trailers and transported to Beijing Capital International Airport where they were loaded onto a specially designed cargo aircraft to be transported to the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

On Dec. 2, 2013 (12:30 p.m. ET December 1, 2013), the lunar probe was launched at 1:30 a.m. from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province with its first moon rover Jade Rabbit aboard for a moon landing mission.

On Dec. 10, 2013, the probe descended from a 100 kilometer-high lunar orbit at 9:20 p.m. to an elliptical orbit with its nearest point, just 15 kilometers from the moon's surface.

On Dec. 14, 2013, the lunar probe, with the country's first moon rover onboard, successfully landed on the moon.

On Dec. 15, 2013, the moon rover and lander took photos of each other on the moon's surface.

On Feb. 22, 2014, the lunar rover Yutu entered the dormancy, with the mechanical control issues that might cripple the vehicle still unresolved.

On August 1, 2016, data sent back to the Earth by Chang'e 3 has proved for the first time that there is no water on the moon.

The result is in line with the expectations of experts. It's also the first time that mankind has proved there is no water on the moon.



Achievements

Chang'e 3 will be the first Chinese spacecraft to make a soft landing on the surface of any extraterrestrial body.

It will be a global first to simultaneously land on the moon and carry out both a patrol and surveillance.

Additionally, Chang'e 3 will be the first Chinese spacecraft to employ radioisotope heat source technology as well as conduct a two-phase fluid loop.

The lunar probe will mean the first breakthrough in the technologies of multiple-window of cryogenic propellant rockets, narrow launch width and high-precision orbiting.

It will for the first time to study and develop a large-scale Chinese deep-space station and set up a deep-space measurement and control network.

It is the first time a remote control will be used on a lunar probe.

It is the first time a lunar probe will research and build a set of high-level experimental facilities and create a set of advanced experimental methods.

Finally then, it is the world's first lunar probe to carry out multiple scientific research on the moon.

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