Chang'e 1 spacecraft was launched by Long March 3A from Xichang Satellite Launch Center (XSLC) on October 24, 2007. It entered lunar orbit on November 7, 2007, becoming China's first lunar-orbiting spacecraft. On November 26, 2007 China published 2D/3D images of lunar surface successfully derived from the downlink data from CCD camera aboard Chang'e 1, marking the success of the first Chinese lunar exploration mission. On February 21, 2008, Chang'e 1 survived from the first lunar eclipse, and now Chang'e 1 has got a large number of valuable data for science exploration. According to ground controllers' instruction, Chang'e 1 impacted on moon accurately on March 1, 2009.
Chang'e 1 is based on China's Dongfanghong (DFH) 3 satellite platform and weighs 2,350 kg. It is designed to operate for one year, orbiting the moon in the 200 km polar circular orbit. Up to now, the spacecraft is well into its year-long task of surveying the moon's surface from a 200-kilometer (120-mile) orbit. Chang'e 1 has four scientific objectives: (1) to obtain 3D imagery of the lunar surface; (2) to detect the contents and distribution of useful chemical elements on the lunar surface; (3) to probe the properties of lunar regolith; and (4) to explore the cislunar space environment between 40,000 km and 400,000 km.
The complete success of our country's first lunar exploration mission has achieved another milestone after first satellite launch and manned space flight. It realized the Chinese nation's 1,000-year-old dream of reaching the moon.
The whole Chang'e program will feature three phrases: Orbiting the moon, Landing on the moon, and sample returning. In Phase 1 of China's lunar program, Chang'e 1 was already launched and its back-up Chang'e 2 will be launched in 2010. The phase 2 has been authorized by State Department in February 2008 and it is underway.