China's Chang'e 3 lunar soft lander and rover are proceeding toward a planned December launch. The Long March-3B rocket departed Beijing for the Xichang launch facility yesterday, and is expected to arrive November 1. "All tests on the Chang'e-3 moon probe, which has been in Xichang since Sept. 12, are going on smoothly," the news article says, paraphrasing a statement from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
Here's a video showing the rocket being lifted onto its train car and departing Beijing (in Chinese). I thank the members of nasaspaceflight.com for posting links to these useful videos.
And here's a EuroNews video with an overview of the mission. There are a couple of head-scratching lines in the voice-over ("scientists have ruled out the use of parachutes on the Moon" -- um, yeah, I don't think you need a scientist to rule out the use of parachutes in a vacuum), but the graphics are cool.
In other news, the naming contest for the Chang'e 3 rover has produced ten possible names. You can vote for your choice online (if you can read Mandarin!) at this website; voting closes October 31, and will produce three finalists. Here's the list of names, with translations provided by Wang Chun on unmannedspaceflight.com:
- 玉兔 or Yutu (Jade Rabbit)
- 探索 or Tansuo (Explorer/Exploring)
- 揽月 or Lanyue ("Pull the Moon into one's arm")
- 钱学森 or Qianxuesen (aka Tsien Hsue-shen)
- 追梦 or Zhuimeng (Chasing Dream)
- 寻梦 or Xunmeng (Seeking Dream)
- 追月 or Zhuiyue (Chasing the Moon)
- 梦想 or Mengxiang (Dream)
- 使命 or Shiming (Mission)
- 前进 or Qianjin (Forward)
According to a Xinhua wire article, this is an ordered list, with "Yutu" being the most popular suggestion. The article states that "Yutu is a white pet rabbit accompanying the goddess Chang'e on the moon in a popular ancient Chinese myth." The list of names was generated on Saturday after a 14-member jury considered 190,000 entries (wow!) on Saturday.