Chinese moon rocket takes private satellite along | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 24.10.2014
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Chinese moon rocket takes private satellite along

China is sending a spacecraft to the moon to prepare for a futre moon landing. A memorial mini satellite from the German airspace company LuxSpace/OHB is traveling piggyback.

Early on Friday morning a Long March 3 rocket started from the Chinese space center in Xichang, sending a Chang'e-5 T1 Spacecraft to a lunar orbit.

The vehicle is expected to arrive on the moon and circle it within a few days and return to earth. Then, a landing capsule is supposed to return to earth safely. It is a test-run for a future robotic lunar mission, scheduled for 2017.

Then, the Chinese engineers want to collect moon rock samples and send them back to earth in a similar capsule - the smaller version of a Shenzou spaceship.

Mini satellite from Bremen

Aboard the rocket was a Mini-Satellite of the airspace-engineering company LuxSpace/OHB from the northern German city of Bremen. The satellite is called Manfred Memorial Moon Mission - or 4M - and is designed to honor the memory of airspace pioneer Manfred Fuchs, who died eralier this year.

Erdbeobachtungs-Satelliten der Firma OHB (Foto: BDLI)

Earth observation satellites, made by OHB

Fuchs built up the company in the early 1980s to become a leading enterprise for satellite technology from what was once a small company producing hydraulic components.

Radio amateurs worldwide are pursuing 4M's flight. They are receiving messages and greetings, sent by the satellite. Furthermore, 4M is equipped with a radiation sensor, measuring cosmic radiation throughout its flight. When the satellite returns from the moon, it will enter a near-earth orbit, continue to measure radiation there and keep broadcasting the results back to earth.