Flight accuracy gives Chang’e-2 new options


Chang'e flies to the moon.

Chang'e flies to the moon: Image via Wikipedia


After requiring only one course correction en route to the moon the fuel left on board Chang’e-2 keeps open all its future options after it completes its 6 month mission. Since Chang’e-1 was already crashed intentionally onto the moon, a return to earth or a flight into outer space are more likely than another descent to the moon’s surface. If the instruments remain in working order a continued flight past other targets in space could be more rewarding than a tame return to Earth.

Xinhua reports:

Chang’e-2 was carried into lunar orbit by a rocket, and only corrected once during the transfer from earth orbit to lunar orbit, so a large amount of fuel will be left after its mission, Zhou Jianliang, the vice chief-designer of BACC, said.

It is s expected to have enough fuel to fly back to earth, the vice chief-designer of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) said Tuesday.

Zhou said there are three possible “fates” for Chang’e-2 after it finishes its six-month mission: landing on the moon; flying to outer space; or returning to earth. The fate of Chang’e-2 will be decided according to its condition when the mission is complete.

The Long March-3C carrier rocket took Chang’e-2 into space from southwest China on Oct. 1. The probe completed its final braking on Oct. 9 and is now orbiting the moon at a 100 km-high orbit.

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