Service module of China's lunar orbiter enters 127-minute orbit

Updated: 2015-01-13 14:07


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BEIJING -- The service module of China's unmanned test lunar orbiter entered a 127-minute orbit on Tuesday after three orbital transfers since Sunday.

To decelerate the craft enough for it enter its target orbit, the service module conducted three braking maneuvers on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced.

"After the circular flight stabilizes, the module will travel along the current orbit at an altitude of 200 km above the moon's surface for tests to validate key technologies for the next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5," said Zhao Wenbo, vice director of SASTIND's lunar probe and space project center.

The spacecraft has enough power remaining and is in sound condition, according to SASTIND. Technicians on Earth have exercised timely and stable control, with the tasks of tracing the service module and system tests progressing well.

The lunar orbiter was launched on Oct. 24. The service module was separated from the orbiter's return capsule on Nov. 1, with the capsule returning to Earth on Nov. 1 after circling the moon during its eight-day mission.

The service module reached the Earth-Moon second Lagrange Point (L2) in late November and left the L2 point on Jan. 4 after completing all preset scientific tasks.

The orbiter is a test run for the final chapter of China's three step lunar program -- orbiting, landing and returning.

The obtained data and validated re-entry technology will be used for the development of Chang'e-5, which is slated for launch around 2017.