[VIDEO] The Soviet Lunar Lander

In our Season 2 Opening, we take a look at the amazing Soviet N-1 Moon Rocket & LK Lunar Lander, and show how the USSR came in Second Place, in The Space Race.

Written, Presented, Filmed, & Edited by: Brittan Kirk
Filmed with: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC)

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Virtual Tour of Chinese Lunar Landing Site

This image shows terrain matched in an image from the Chang'e 3 lander and an image from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. See a larger version. Credit: CNSA/NASA/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo/Mark Robinson

This image shows terrain matched in an image from the Chang’e 3 lander and an image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. See a larger version.
Credit: CNSA/NASA/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo/Mark Robinson

Video and photos of China’s lunar rover mission

China’s robotic moon landing mission, which arrived there two months ago, has produced the digital era’s first high-resolution images from the lunar surface. But unlike NASA’s practice with its Mars rovers, Chinese officials have not produced any mosaics or panoramas from images taken by the Chang’e 3 lander or rover.

That task fell to amateurs.

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U.S. Can Still Beat China Back to Moon

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Mark Whittington writes:  The Chang’e-3 mission that landed a rover called Yutu on the Bay of Rainbows on the lunar surface proves China’s space exploration program has one thing that America’s does not — a clear direction. Its piloted space program has featured missions of increasing complexity, with the latest being two visits to the Tiangong-1 space module, a predecessor of a planned Chinese space station.

In the meantime America’s space exploration is fraught with confusion, controversy and a conspicuous lack of funding and direction. Ever since President Obama cancelled President George W. Bush’s Constellation program that would have returned Americans to the moon, NASA has been headed for an asteroid in the near term. Which asteroid and how Americans will get there are still open questions.

After China’s successful series of robotic landings on the moon, many space experts agree the Chinese will probably execute a moon walk sometime in the 2020s. If and when that happens and if Americans are not on the moon to greet them, China becomes the world’s space exploration leader and all that implies.

All is not lost:

  • NASA currently has the robotic Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) in lunar orbit.
  • A private-sector contest, the Google Lunar X Prize, might result in another lunar landing or landings likely by at least one American team, by the end of 2015. This depends on one or more of these private groups raising enough money to pay for both their own lunar rover and lander and a rocket launch to the moon.
  • Bigelow Aerospace, which proposes to build its own space station made of inflatable modules, recently produced a report calling for a commercial lunar base. The base would be established using a model in which NASA provides financing and resupply contracts for private space craft to service the International Space Station.

In one scenario, NASA could provide the manned Orion deep space craft which would be launched with the heavy-lift rocket, Space Launch System, while the private sector could provide lunar landing vehicles and the habitats that would comprise a lunar base. The lunar base would be established and owned by a commercial enterprise and NASA would be a core customer leasing space.

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China’s Maiden Lunar Rover ‘Yutu’ Rolls 6 Wheels onto the Moon

China's first lunar rover separates from Chang'e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

China’s first ever lunar rover rolled majestically onto the Moon’s soil on Sunday, Dec. 15, barely seven hours after the Chang’e-3 mothership touched down atop the lava filled plains of the Bay of Rainbows.

Check out the gallery of stunning photos and videos herein from China’s newest space spectacular atop stark lunar terrain.

The six wheeled ‘Yutu’, or Jade Rabbit, rover drove straight off a pair of ramps at 4:35 a.m. Beijing local time and sped right into the history books as it left a noticeably deep pair of tire tracks behind in the loose lunar dirt.

China's first lunar rover separates from Chang'e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: CCTV

China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: CCTV

The stunning feat was broadcast on China’s state run CCTV using images transmitted to Earth from cameras mounted on the Chang’e-3 lander and aimed directly at the rear of the departing moon buggy.

Watch this YouTube video from CCTV showing the separation of ‘Yutu’ from the lander:

The scene was reminiscent of NASA’s Mars Sojourner rover driving of the Mars Pathfinder lander back in 1997.

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CHINA LANDS PROBE ON THE MOON

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BEIJING (AP) — Louise Watts reports: China on Saturday successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

This Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, shows a picture of the moon surface taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 on the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. China on Saturday successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Jianmin

This Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, shows a picture of the moon surface taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang’e-3 on the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Jianmin

The unmanned Chang’e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth’s nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.

The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called “Yutu,” or “Jade Rabbit,” the goddess’ pet. After landing Saturday evening on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover was slated to separate from the Chang’e eight hours later and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

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China Readies to Launch First Moon Rover Mission

This file photo shows a model of a lunar rover 'Jade Rabbit', seen on display at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai, on November 5, 2013

This file photo shows a model of a lunar rover ‘Jade Rabbit’, seen on display at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai, on November 5, 2013

China will launch its first ever moon rover mission on Monday, state media said, as Beijing embarks on the latest stage in its ambitious space programme.

A rocket carrying the vehicle, named “Jade Rabbit” in a nod to Chinese folklore, will blast off at 1:30 am local time (Sunday 1730 GMT).

“The Chang’e 3 is set to be launched for its moon mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 2,” state broadcaster CCTV said on its verified Twitter account on Saturday.

Official news agency Xinhua also confirmed the launch date, citing officials at the satellite launch centre in Sichuan province.

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China Steps Up the Space race: Lunar Probe This year

A Chinese Long March 3C rocket launches the unmanned Chang'e 2 lunar probe toward the moon on Oct. 1, 2010 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Credit: CALT

Long March 3C rocket launches the unmanned Chang’e 2 lunar probe Oct. 1, 2010 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center – Credit: CALT

China will launch a lander and rover to the moon by the end of this year, officials announced Wednesday, part of an ambitious plan to return samples from the lunar surface by 2017 and send humans within the next decade.

China will send a rover to the moon by the end of the year, officials announced Wednesday. Though it was originally slated for September, officials are now planning to launch early December 2 local time (December 1 in the US).

“The Chang’e-3 mission makes best use of a plethora of innovative technology. It is an extremely difficult mission that carries great risk,” said Ma Xingrui, head of China’s space exploration body and chief commander of the lunar program. Read the rest of this entry »