Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Space Update - Chinese Moon Mission and a Historic First for Women in Space

Today, China launched a lunar probe, an orbiter called Chang'E 1 which is designed to orbit the Moon and gather data. The spacecraft is named after the moon goddess.

Chang'E 1 is the second lunar mission launched from Asia this year, intensifying the Asian space race to send human explorers to the Moon. Earlier this month, Japan launched the SELENE mission, the largest and most ambitious lunar exploration spacecraft since the American Apollo and Soviet Luna programs. And next year, India is expected to send their Chandraayan probe.

Also today, the astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery, mission STS-120, spent their first full day in space. They launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral to deliver the Harmony module to the International Space Station.

Discovery, commanded by Pamela Melroy, is scheduled to dock at the International Space Station tomorrow. The current ISS crew, Expedition 16, is commanded by Peggy Whitson. And that is the historic first -- two female mission commanders in space at the same time.

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