China’s Chang’e 2 Probe Enters Orbit Around Moon

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China’s new Moon probe reached its destination Oct. 6 after firing braking thrusters to enter into lunar orbit, according to Chinese state media reports.

The unmanned spacecraft, named Chang’e 2, is China’s second lunar orbiter. It entered a 12-hour orbit around the Moon after completing a five-day trip from Earth, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

China launched Chang’e 2 on Oct. 1 atop a Long March 3C rocket from Sichuan province. The mission follows the successful flight of China’s first Moon mission, Chang’e 1, which crash-landed into the lunar surface as planned in March 2009.

Chang’e 2’s Oct. 6 braking maneuver slowed the spacecraft and allowed it to enter an elliptical orbit around the Moon, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center and Xinhua.

Two more maneuvers are planned to steer the probe into its final 118-minute orbit.

Chang’e 2 will map the Moon from an altitude of 100 kilometers, about twice as close as Chang’e 1.