If you needed another reason to celebrate tomorrow, here’s one. Three years after the first Chang’e was sent up into space and landed in a planned collision, a second lunar probe is poised to launch, coinciding with the National Holiday.
The last round of checks have just been carried out on the Chang’e 2 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan. The unmanned Chang’e 2 is more or less an advanced version of the first Chang’e–equipped with a higher resolution camera, Chang’e 2 will orbit about 100 km closer to the moon.
It’s scheduled to lift off tomorrow at 10:59:57 UTC. If for any reason, it misses the first window, back up launch times have been set for either October 2nd or 3rd.
Looks like things are on track for China’s ambitious space program. China’s expressed hopes to send a mission to Mars within the next few years and to even launch a Chang’e 3, which will be a moon lander and rover.