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Timeline of China's Lunar Program

Xinhua News Agency, November 27, 2013 Adjust font size:

Chang'e-3, the spacecraft carrying China's rover to the moon, will be launched in early December.

China's lunar mission is divided into three stages: orbiting, landing, and return. Following is the timeline of China's lunar mission development.


Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND) begins planning the lunar mission, tackling major scientific and technological problems.


January - lunar orbiter project is formally established;

February - mission is named "Project Chang'-e" after a mythical Chinese goddess who flew to the moon.


Oct 24 - Chang'e-1 is successfully launched;

Nov 7 - Chang'e-1 enters lunar orbit;

Nov 26 - a clip of the voice of the probe and a Chinese song "Ode to the Motherland" are sent back from orbit. China's first picture of the lunar surface is published by Xinhua News Agency.


Jan 31 - COSTIND publishes the first picture of the lunar polar region taken by Chang'e-1;

October - the State Council, China's Cabinet, approves the Chang'e-2 mission;

Nov 12 - based on data collected by Chang'e-1, the first lunar hologram with a resolution of 7 meters is published.


March 1 - Chang'e-1 impacts the moon under control.


Oct 1 - Chang'e-2 is sent into space aboard a Long March-3C carrier rocket from southwest China's Xichang satellite launch center;

Oct 9 - Chang'e-2 enters 100-km circular lunar orbit;

Oct 26 - Chang'e-2 enters lower, elliptical orbit; prepares to photograph Sinus Iridium;

Oct 29 - Chang'e-2 photographs Sinus Iridium and returns to a higher orbit;

Nov 8 - pictures of Sinus Iridium published by the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND).


April 1 - Chang'e-2 completes all six engineering objectives and four scientific missions. Its design lifetime expires;

April to the end of May - Chang'e-2 surveys south and north poles of the moon, and takes high-resolution pictures of the chosen landing site for Chang'e-3;

August 25 - For the first time in history, from lunar orbit a space craft enters the second Lagrange Point (L2) orbit, where gravity of the sun and Earth balance the orbital motion of the satellite.


Feb 6 - SASTIND publishes a lunar hologram with a resolution of 7 meters;

Dec 13 - Chang'e-2 arrives in deep space 7 million km away from Earth, and surveys the Tout asteroid.


Chang'e-2 is 60 million km away from Earth and has become China's first man-made asteroid in the solar system. It continues flying into deeper space

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