GUIYANG, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- China's second lunar probe, the Chang'e-2, will fly much faster than its predecessor and reach lunar orbit within a shorter period of time, a top Chinese space scientist told Xinhua here Friday.
China is set to launch the Chang'e-2 lunar probe at the end of the year.
The country launched its first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, named after China's mythical Moon Goddess, on Oct. 24, 2007, from southwest China's Sichuan Province. The probe ended its 16-month mission on March 1, 2009, when it crashed into the moon's surface.
"It is estimated Chang'e-2 can reach lunar orbit within five days, compared to 13 days, 14 hours and 19 minutes for Chang'e-1," Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist at the China Lunar Exploration Project, told Xinhua.
"China has not been to moon before the country launched Chang'e-1, so we were very prudent at that time and adjusted its orbit in a very slow manner. It flew a journey of 2.06 million km before reaching lunar orbit," he said.
"But it's different now. We are more sure about the launch," he said.
"We can send Chang'e-2 directly to the moon and we have also changed the orbit for it, so it can reach lunar orbit within five days."
In addition, Chang'e 2 will orbit 100 km closer to the moon and carry a higher resolution camera, he added.
According to China's three-phase moon exploration road map, the country will first launch the Chang'e-2 lunar orbiter. Then it will land Chang'e-3 on the moon in 2013. Then, in 2017, a moon rock sample will be returned to earth.
Chang'e-2 will test key soft-landing technologies for the Chang'e-3 and provide high-resolution photographs of the landing area, the space authorities said.
The country plans to launch its third unmanned probe to the moon, Chang'e-3, in 2013.