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China to launch second lunar spacecraft in 2010

An artistic rendition of Chang'e-1 moon orbiter.

BEIJING (BNS): China has completed the design of its second lunar spacecraft, Chang'e-2, and plans to launch it by the end of 2010, according to a media report here.

The design and production of Chang'e-2 is complete and it is undergoing ground tests, China Daily reported quoting the country's space authorities.

The unmanned lunar orbiter will conduct research at a 100-kilometer-high moon orbit as a preparation for a soft landing by Chang'e-3. It will also provide high quality images of the landing site.

Chang'e-3 is China's lunar lander and rover slated for launch in 2013. It is currently in the prototype stage, the report said.

The Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 spacecraft are part of China's second phase of lunar exploration mission. The spacecraft have been designed with three stages –orbiting, landing and returning.

The country's first lunar probe, Chang’e-1, was launched in 2007 and completed its mission in March this year.

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