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Cutting-Edge Tracking-Control System To Be Used In Chang'e-3 Mission

posted 30 Nov 2013, 11:43 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 Nov 2013, 11:43 ]

 China-Lunar Probe/Command Center

China Central Television (CCTV) - Cutting-edge deep space tracking and control system will be used in the mission of Chang'e-3 lunar probe on Monday, said experts from the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Centeron Saturday.

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Chang'e-3 lunar probe will be launched to the moon at 01:30 on Dec. 2 morning from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. It will be the first time for China to attempt a soft landing on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.

Chang'e-3 comprises a lander and a moon rover called "Yutu" (Jade Rabbit). The extreme distances present new challenges to the mission control team, who must remotely maneuver both the probe and the lunar rover to a high level of accuracy.

According to Wu Fenglei, deputy director of the System Design Department of Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center, moments after the launch of Chang'e-3, all the monitoring and command orders will be made at the Center, which is also the headquarters of the Chang'e-3 mission.

Wu said that numerous simulations have been repeatedly done, especially the crucial stages such as braking, landing and separation of the lander and moon rover, since the command hall is to decide the fate of Chang'e-3.

"We have been rehearsing the whole process. For some crucial stages, we will do extra practices for more times," said Wu Fenglei.

Chang'e-3 will involve China's first use of an X-band Observation System in the soft landing and for the moon rover, and two giant antennas were built for that specific task.

Meanwhile, Unified S-band Observation System (USB), and the very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) will also be involved to track the distance and the angle position of the satellite for orbit determination.

Senior engineer Xi Luhua has worked on all three Chang'e projects. She said that the first moon rover is a challenge as well as an inspiration in deep space tracking and control.

"We can receive the data images from the rover, through which we can get to know its working conditions. meanwhile, we also send orders to control its function through the image data," said Xi Luhua.

Once succeed, China will become the third country to soft land on the moon, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

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