Yutu is on it’s way to the Moon!

2 Dec
Liftoff

Liftoff

In a spectacular launch reminiscent of the Apollo-era missions, China successfully launched a robotic mission to the Moon.

On Sunday at 12:30pm EST (1:30am December 2, Beijing time) China’s space agency launched a modified Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province. Atop this rocket sat the Chang’e 3 lunar lander and a rover named ‘Yutu’ – which means Jade Rabbit, the pet rabbit of the Moon goddess Chang’e.

When the lander touches down in mid-December it will be the first soft landing on the Moon since the Soviet probe Luna 24 touched down on the lunar surface 37 years ago.

A live English-language webcast allowed viewers around the world to follow the launch. The broadcast was provided by China’s state-run television network CCTV.

The three-stage Long March 3B rocket was 55m (185 feet) tall when it launched, or about the height of a 15-story building.

Following separation from the rocket, Chang’e 3 successfully deployed its landing legs and solar panels.

On December 6, Chang’e 3 will fire its engines to enter lunar orbit. This will set up a December 14 landing.

Coincidentally, December 14 is the last day a human was on the moon. This was during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The Yutu rover is powered primarily by solar panels; however it also has a small nuclear power source to provide heat to its instruments during the Moon’s nights – when the temperature drops to a chilling minus 170° Celsius.

Yutu is 1.5 meters tall and weighs approximately 120 kilograms.

Chang’e 3 is China’s third mission to the Moon. Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 were both lunar orbiting missions. They launched in 2007 and 2010 respectively.

This article by Harrison Ruess was originally posted on the Sun News Network

China's Long March 3B rocket launches from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province at 1:30am Beijing time on December 2, 2013. Atop this rocket sits the robotic Chang'e 3 Moon lander and Yutu rover.

China’s Long March 3B rocket launches from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province at 1:30am Beijing time on December 2, 2013. Atop this rocket sits the robotic Chang’e 3 Moon lander and Yutu rover.

China's Long March 3B rocket successful separates its second and third stages.

China’s Long March 3B rocket successful separates its second and third stages.

China's Chang'e 3 is seen moments after successfully separating from its launch rocket on December 2, 2013 Beijing time. The robotic Chang'e 3 mission is on route to a December 14 landing on the Moon.

China’s Chang’e 3 is seen moments after successfully separating from its launch rocket on December 2, 2013 Beijing time. The robotic Chang’e 3 mission is on route to a December 14 landing on the Moon.

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One Response to “Yutu is on it’s way to the Moon!”

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  1. » Chang’e-3 lands on the Moon, successfully deploys Yutu rover @HarrisonRuess - December 14, 2013

    […] Chang’e-3 launched on December 2 and then took about four days to reach lunar orbit. From December 6-14, the orbit was being adjusted in order to setup today’s descent and landing. […]

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