Beijing, China (Algae-zebra) - Officials for the National Chinese Space Agency today confirmed that its lunar probe Chang'e-1 had gone missing just after a crucial deployment phase of the mission prior to leaving earth orbit for the moon. A spokesperson for the agency said that the loss of contact with the probe was "highly suspicious", and had registered a formal complaint with NASA in regards to the space shuttle Discovery currently in earth orbit. Chang'e-1 is the first of a series of unmanned lunar probes from China which is to culminate in the future with a lunar landing and sample return mission. The Chinese government also had hopes that Chang'e-1 would also be able to provide photographic proof that the famed American series of manned Apollo missions to the moon never occurred.
NASA would neither confirm nor deny any knowledge of the probe's fate.
"Our sympathies go out to the Chinese team," said an anonymous NASA official. "We know full well the pain and frustration that can occur over malfunctions and technical glitches. We have been concerned over reports that the Chinese may have been depending upon pirated technology. If this does not prove to be the case, then I suspect that they may have nothing to fear, and they may eventually be able to re-establish communications and proceed with their mission."