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China to launch moon probe in 2 years

China will launch its first lunar satellite in two years’ time. Dubbed the `Chang’e Project’, the first lunar orbiter will itself be called `Chang’e-I.’ All preparations are in full swing, vice-chief designer of the project Long Lehao said. There are also reports about the ongoing success of the Double Star Programme test.

The Double Star mission, the first Sino-European project involving probe satellites, involves two probes, the TC-1 and TC-2, which fly in complementary orbits around the Earth. All equipments are functioning well. TC-2 was launched from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in North China’s Shanxi Province on July 25. It will be tested until the end of September.

The Double Star and the Chang’e missions are China’s latest moves into outer space. The Double-Star mission will look at the causes of space storms and how safety in space travel can be improved. The two satellites will operate alongside four others from the Cluster II project, a European venture that started in 2000 to study how solar winds affect the Earth. The Chang’e probe will involve landing an unmanned vehicle on the moon and scooping up moon dust to analyze later on Earth. The launch, landing and return phases are expected to be completed within 20 years.