China to launch first moon rover mission

China is embarking on latest stage of space programme that hopes to eventually send someone to the moon.

     China to launch first moon rover mission
    The launch will mark a major milestone in China's space exploration programme [AP]

    China will launch its first ever moon rover mission, state media said, as it embarks on the latest stage in its
    ambitious space programme.

    A rocket carrying the vehicle, named "Jade Rabbit" in a nod to Chinese folklore, will blast off at 1:30 am local time (Sunday 1730 GMT).

    "The Chang'e 3 is set to be launched for its moon mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec 2," state broadcaster CCTV said on its verified Twitter account on Saturday.

    If successful, the launch will mark a major milestone in China's space exploration programme, which ambitiously aims to create a permanent space station by 2020 and eventually send someone to the moon.

    But its technology currently lags behind the expertise of the United States and Russia.

    China has previously sent two probes to orbit the moon, with controllers sending the first of them crashing into the lunar surface at the end of its mission.

    Early in November, Beijing offered a rare glimpse into its secretive space programme when it put a model of its six-wheeled moon rover on public display.

    The rover was later named 'Yutu', or Jade rabbit, following an online poll.

    The name derives from an ancient Chinese myth about a white rabbit that lives on the moon as the pet of Chang'e, a lunar goddess who swallowed an immortality pill.

    SOURCE: AFP


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