Chinese Satellite Arrives at Moon

Radio tracking and control a technical and political feat

3 min read

5 November 2007—China’s first lunar satellite began orbiting the moon today for the start of a yearlong mapping and chemical-analysis mission. The craft is the second probe to arrive in the past month. Japan’s Kaguya entered orbit on 19 October. India, too, plans a lunar mission for 2008.

Chang’e-1, the US $169 million Chinese probe, was launched on 24 October from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, located in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Designed and built by the China Academy of Space Technology, the satellite is the first in a series of three spacecraft that China will use to explore the moon; they will be launched at five-year intervals.

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Top Tech 2022: A Special Report

Preview two dozen exciting technical developments that are in the pipeline for the coming year

1 min read
Photo of the lower part of a rocket in an engineering bay.

NASA’s Space Launch System will carry Orion to the moon.

Frank Michaux/NASA

At the start of each year, IEEE Spectrum attempts to predict the future. It can be tricky, but we do our best, filling the January issue with a couple of dozen reports, short and long, about developments the editors expect to make news in the coming year.

This isn’t hard to do when the project has been in the works for a long time and is progressing on schedule—the coming first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, for example. For other stories, we must go farther out on a limb. A case in point: the description of a hardware wallet for Bitcoin that the company formerly known as Square (which recently changed its name to Block) is developing but won’t officially comment on. One thing we can predict with confidence, though, is that Spectrum readers, familiar with the vicissitudes of technical development work, will understand if some of these projects don’t, in fact, pan out. That’s still okay.

Engineering, like life, is as much about the journey as the destination.

See all stories from our Top Tech 2022 Special Report

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