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China preps blast-off tomorrow for first ever moon rover mission

China Chang'e-3 lunar rover

A model of the Chang’e 3 lunar rover (Photo: CCTV News on Twitter)

This weekend, China’s space agency is putting the finishing touches to the launch of its first ever moon rover mission. The aim is to put the Chang’e 3 lunar rover (pictured), which is nicknamed the Jade Rabbit, on the lunar surface.

According to state broadcaster CCTV, the lunar rover will be taken into space aboard a rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 1:30 a.m. local time on Monday, December 2.

Previously, China has successfully completed two lunar orbit missions to analyze mineralogy, but this is the first time for the nation to hit the surface of the moon. The BBC notes that Chang’e 3’s eventual landing will be the first soft touchdown on the moon since an unmanned Russian mission in 1976.

The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP), headed by chief scientist Ouyang Ziyuan, is aiming at a permanent space station on the moon by 2020 as well as future manned missions.

The CCTV news report embedded below goes into the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center, from where the lunar rover – and the entire space mission – is overseen.



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