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Jade Rabbit In Space: China Launches First Rover Mission To The Moon

BEIJING  — China launched its first rover mission to the moon, sending a robotic craft named Jade Rabbit to trundle across the lunar landscape, examine its geology and beam images back to Earth. According to the official Xinhua News Agency a rocket carrying the rover aboard an unmanned Chang’e 3 spaceship successfully blasted off from a launch center in southwestern China, and is scheduled to arrive on the moon in mid-December.

China Lunar Lander

“We will strive for our space dream as part of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation,” Xichang Satellite Launch Center director Zhang Zhenzhong said. If the Chang’e 3 successfully soft-lands on the moon, China will become the third country to do so, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.


Chang’e is a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, and Yutu or ‘Jade Rabbit’ is her pet. [Photo by Absolute China Tours]

A soft landing does not damage the craft and the equipment it carries. An earlier Chinese craft orbited and collected data before intentionally crash-landing on the moon.
China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation after Russia and the United States to achieve manned space travel independently.


The solar-powered rover will survey the moon’s geological structures and set up a telescope to survey the surface as well as observe the Earth’s plasmasphere.

The military-backed space program is a source of enormous national pride for China and has powered ahead in a series of well-funded, methodically timed steps.

It has already said its goal is to eventually have a space station and put an astronaut on the moon. The country has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience.

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