Friday, October 01, 2010
Chang'e 2 is scheduled to lift off in just one hour. There doesn't seem to be a live feed but I'll keep looking. Xinhua has an interesting graph here:
According to that there have been 126 missions to the Moon, with a success rate of 50%. 64 have been from the USSR, 57 from the US, two from Japan, one from the ESA, one from China, and one from India. With 63 successes and 63 failures that's a lot of lost potential over the decades, although admittedly most of those came in the very beginning when the Moon was still a difficult target for unmanned probes.
The reason why Chang'e will take such a short time to reach the Moon is that it will be send into a lunar transfer orbit right at the beginning, so all it has to do is loop around once and then enter orbit without any hanging around Earth before doing so.
Edit: two links to follow the launch:
Edit: Launch! There's a livestream on the first link but I don't feel like installing any new software to watch it so just stay tuned to the nasaspaceflight link to keep track of the launch's progress.