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Chang'e-1 completes journey to moon
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China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, completed its 1,580,000-km flying journey to the moon successfully on Wednesday morning and entered its working orbit.

The probe, following instructions of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), started its third braking at 8:24 AM and entered a 127-minute round polar circular orbit at around 8:35 AM after completing the braking.

The TV pictures showed gray-haired Luan Enjie, chief commander of China's lunar probe project, and also silver-haired Sun Jiadong, chief designer of the project, wearing smiles and holding hands together tightly.

"It puts a successful end to the probe's long flight to the moon," Luan said.

"The satellite entered the designed working orbit just in time and very accurately today," said Sun, who has joined hands with Luan for more than a decade to develop, test and carry out the country's ambitious lunar probe project.

"The probe will travel along the orbit at a stable altitude of 200 km above the moon's surface. In each circle, it will always pass the two polars," said Wang Yejun, chief engineer of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC).

The round orbit is also the final destination of the probe, where it is supposed to start carrying out all the planned scientific exploration tasks.

It was originally designed to stay on the orbit for one year, but a researcher estimated that fuel saved by smooth operations and precise maneuvers may prolong its life span.

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.

(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2007)

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