China to send orbiter to moon later this year
Published on Aug 11, 2014 1:19 PM
BEIJING (AFP) - China will launch its first recoverable moon orbiter later this year, the government announced in the latest step in its ambitious space programme.
The mission will be launched before the end of the year and will travel to the moon before returning to earth, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement on Sunday.
Doing so will require withstanding the high temperatures that develop when a probe re-enters the Earth's atmosphere. The orbiter will test technology that will be used for China's ambitious Chang'e-5 mission, which aims to gather samples from the moon's surface, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise, as well as evidence of the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.
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