By Leonard David and SPACE.com
A Chinese spacecraft service module has entered orbit around the moon, months after being used in the country's landmark test flight that sent a prototype sample-return capsule on a flight around the moon and returned it to Earth.
The service module from China's circumlunar test flight arrived in orbit around the moon this week, according to Chinese state media reports. The spacecraft is currently flying in an eight-hour orbit that carries it within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the lunar surface at its closest point, and out to a range of 3,293 miles (5,300 km) at its highest point.
According to chief engineer Zhou Jianlian of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center the module will make its second and third braking in the early hours of Jan. 12 and 13, Beijing time. Doing so will enable the module to enter a 127-minute orbit around the moon, Zhou said.
Earlier reports noted that a camera system is onboard the service module, designed to assist in identifying future landing spots for the Chang'e 5 mission that will return lunar samples back to Earth in the 2017 time frame.
More - Link >>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/china-spacecraft-enters-orbit-around-the-moon/?WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20150113
Sources: Space.com , Scientific American Magazine.
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