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Congratulations, China, for landing on the Moon. This has been a small step, I mean it's just a robotic lander, but indeed it's a first controlled and successful landing of a robotic lander on the lunar surface since Luna in 1976.
This has been a great feat for China, and a human landing isn't that far away.
The lander Chang'e 3 uses an RTG for it's power (238-Plutonium Dioxide), alongside some Li cells and PVC. For temperature regulation it uses a passive and active TR systems, a simple multi-layer mylar blanket to prevent solar heating and a set of RH to provide heat during the Lunar night.
The propulsion system uses a mixture of UDMH and N2O4. The engine is a custom-developed high-specific-impulse engine with a pintle flow rate regulation device to adjust the trust (the precision is claimed to be 7.5N). The engine has a high-area 60 cm nozzle and is optimized for operating in vacuum conditions. The engine can provide between 1,000 and 7,500N of force, which is enough to land and take off in 1/6 G environment. Chang'e 3 also uses a set of 100 N and 10 N thrusters for RCS (total number 28). The 100 N thrusters are used for TCM and possibly for LOIM.
Chang'e 3 is dropped from 4 meters, which is considered a soft landing. It has to use a cushioning device to prevent any damage (a super-plastic material is located on the landing pads). It uses an INP to observe the dV change after every burn to ensure the correct dV is reached. For ranging and velocity measurements, it uses a LRS and MRS. As a close-range altimeter it uses a GRA to precisely detect the surface level beneath so it can find a flat spot to land.
I haven't studied the rover to know much details, except that it has 2 deployable solar panels, a series of RHU, some thermal regulation blankets, two or more Li cells, it has 6 DC brushless motors that drive each of the wheels individually and it can steer in place.
I'm hoping that Chinese government is going to allow the release of high-res pictures from the moon and the technical telemetry data to the public.
This post was last updated on December 14th, 2013.