Nov 30, 2010

Rover roundup - Chang'e 3 gets a launch pad

Latest news of lunar rover attempts outside of the Lunar X Prize

China has set its date to land a man on the Moon.

Well, several dates, depending on who you want to listen to.

It could be just 15 years away, according academic Ye Peijan from China Aerospace Science and Technology, but China expects it to happen by 2030 at the latest.

They're taking a slow, steady approach, which has so far been a successful one.

On November 8, CNSA announced its second orbiter Chang'e 2, successfully entered a 100km working orbit.

Chang'e 3 will launch in 2013 (Xinhua)

Now it's Chang'e 3's turn. Yesterday, the project's top boffin Ouyang Ziyuan announced the mission to put China's first rover on the Moon would launch from the Wenchang Launching Base in Southern China's Hainan Province.

Prof Ziyuan is a strong believer in the possibilities offered by the Moon's mineral supplies, particularly lunar helium-3, which he believes holds one of the keys to developing nuclear fusion power plants.

Chang'e 3 is the lunar-lander and rover that he hopes will dig for and return soil samples. The rover was finished last year and will be launched in 2013.

It can transmit video in real time and travel at 100m per hour, with the ability to climb hills and avoid obstacles.

According to China's Xinhua news agency, it will be launched from a Long March 3B vehicle and land in the Sinus Iridium (Bay of Rainbows).

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