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Chang'e-3 mission to use cutting-edge deep space tracking

11-30-2013 13:08 BJT Special Report: Chang’e-3 Lunar Probe |

By CCTV reporte Han Bin

The Chang’e-3 lunar probe will be the country’s first attempt at a soft landing on any extra terrestrial surface and the first moon landing by any country in almost 40 years.

The extreme distances present new challenges for the mission control team, who must remotely manouver both the probe and the lunar rover to a high level of accuracy. Our reporter Han Bin has been granted special access to the command center, where it’s all taking place.

“This is the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center. It’s the headquarters of the tracking and control system for the lunar probing satellite—the Chang’e 3. Moments after launch all of the monitoring and command orders will be made from here, making this site the project’s nerve center. ”

Going into the heart of China’s space program.

Or some might say, the brain.

Wu Fenglei, Deputy Director of the system design department, explains why the tracking and control system is key to the lunar project.

This command hall decides the fate of Chang’e 3. Numerous simulations are run again and again...

"We need to rehearse the whole process, and do extra practice for some crucial stages, like the braking, landing and separation of the Lander and moon rover." Wu Fenglei said.

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

There’s also the unified S-band observation system or USB and the very long baseline interferometry, or VLBI. Simply put, they’re used to track the distance and the angle position of the satellite for orbit determination.

"Through receiving the data from the rover, we know its working conditions, and we also send orders to control its function, through the image data it sends back to us. So, it’s a two-way communications." Xi Luhua, Senior Engineer of Beijing Aerospace Control and Command Center said.

Senior Engineer Xi Luhua has worked on all three Chang’e projects. She says this first moon rover provides both a challenge and an inspiration in deep space tracking and control.

This state-of-the-art Command and Control Center has witnessed all of China’s space progress, including the Shenzhou manned space missions, and the previous two lunar probes. This is the place where scientists and engineers collect data, monitor signals and make crucial decisions at each stage. And it’s here that China will write another page of aviation history with the launch of the Chang’e-3.


Editor:James |Source:

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