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Chang'e I mission may not end with a bang
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China's first lunar orbiter, Chang'e I, is not likely to crash into the moon at the end of its year-long voyage, as some observers have suggested it might.

An official said on Friday that scientists had come up with several proposals on how to dispose of the lunar satellite at the end of its mission, and two of them are under consideration.

"One is to gradually lower the satellite's orbit from the current 200 km to 100 km, and then 50 km, so we can observe the moon more closely," Hao Xifan, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration Center of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense, said at a lecture in Beijing.

The other is to expand the orbit to a level that would enable Chang'e I to observe the whole solar system, he said.

It would be impossible for Chang'e I to fly back to Earth because it does not have enough fuel, he said.

Whatever option scientists choose will depend on the condition of the satellite, he said.

Earlier reports said scientists hoped precise maneuvering might have saved 200 kg of fuel during the satellite's 380,000-km journey to its current orbit, possibly prolonging its lifespan.

(China Daily December 15, 2007)

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