China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, stopped rotation at 9:00 AM on Monday and is preparing for its first braking at perilune to enter the moon's orbit.
Chang'e-1, following the instructions of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), will carry out the braking at about 11:00 a.m. Monday to slow down, so that it can be captured by the lunar gravity and become a circumlunar satellite, said Wang Yejun, chief engineer of BACC.
"The speed of Chang'e-1 can reach 2.4 km per second when it arrives at perilune, and it will likely fly away from the moon if the braking is not conducted in time," Wang said.
"The first braking at perilune is another key moment in the long journey of Chang'e-1," he said.
China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, named after a legendary Chinese goddess who flew to the moon, blasted off on a Long March 3A carrier rocket on Oct. 24 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan Province.
The probe completed its fourth orbital transfer late Wednesday afternoon, shifting out of its 120,000-kilometer orbit around the Earth and moving toward a 380,000-kilometer circumlunar orbit.
(Xinhua News Agency November 5, 2007)