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China gears up for lunar mission after round-trip success

Updated: Nov 3,2014 6:35 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — The head of China’s lunar probe program has called for a thorough analysis of data collected from the test lunar orbiter, which returned on Nov 1, to speed up work on Chang’e-5, the star of the 2017 lunar mission.

With the test lunar orbiter landing early on Nov 1 in north China after an eight-day flight, China joined the Soviet Union and the United States and became the third nation to realize a return mission to the Moon.

“The mission was realized with stable flight and precision in launch timing, orbit entry, recovery, and all pre-set goals were achieved,” said Xu Daze, also head of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, on Sunday at a ceremony for the reception of the orbiter.

According to Xu, the mission marked a “breakthrough” in the third and final phase of the lunar schedule — orbiting, landing and return — and had heightened understanding of high-velocity re-entry mechanisms, development of new materials and innovative space equipment design.

Chang’e-5 will collect samples from the lunar surface in a mission planned for 2017.