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China Successfully Launches Its Lunar Lander Mission

The Chang'e-3 mission will be the first moon landing since 1976

3 min read
China Successfully Launches Its Lunar Lander Mission
Mini Moon Rover: The rover portion of the Chang’e-3 mission to the moon sports some onboard intelligence.
Photo: Getty Images

China’s moon lander is on its way. Today the Chinese space agency launched the lander into space aboard a Long March 3B rocket.

If all goes according to plan with the Chang’e-3 mission, the red flag of China will soon fly on the moon’s surface. The lander is expected to touch down on the lunar surface in about two weeks; then a rover will roll off the lander’s ramp and start making tracks in the regolith.

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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