China launched its first lunar probeon Wednesday, the first step into its ambitiousthree-stage moon mission, marking a new milestonein the country's space exploration history.
The circumlunarsatellite Chang'e-1 blasted off on a Long March 3A carrier rocket at 6:05 p.m. from the No. 3 launching tower in the Xichang Satellite Launch Center of southwestern Sichuan Province. 小荷作文网 www.zww.cn
Hundreds of domestic reporters, more than 2,000 tourists from all over the country, and space experts from Japan, Germany, Italy and other countries invited by the Chinese space authorities gathered at the launch center to see the historic moment. 小 荷 作文网 www.zww.cn
"The launch was very successful, and everything is proceeding just as planned," said Wu Ji, director of the Space Science and Applied Research Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
Chang'e-1 separated from carrier rocket at 6:29 p.m. and entered into a 16-hour orbitat 205 kilometers perigee and 50,930 kilometers apogee, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC).
Chang'e-1 is so far the most sophisticatedsatellite China has ever built. Scientists will maneuver it at least 10 times before it arrives in the moon's orbit. China's Shenzhou VI manned spacecraft was maneuvered three times by scientists in the flight control center.