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China is scheduled to launch Chang’e-3 lunar probe in early December, a spokesman with State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said Tuesday.
“The lunar probe will land on the moon in mid-December if everything is successful,” said SASTIND spokesman Wu Zhijian.
Chang’e-3, that includes a lander and a moon rover, will mark the first time a Chinese spacecraft will soft-land on the surface of a celestial body.
The Chang’e-3 mission is the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.
Chinese scientists say they are aiming for retrieval of lunar soil and stone samples around 2017.
The launch marks the next step in an ambitious space program which includes eventually building a space station.
China’s indigenous navigation system BeiDou is expected to be able to provide highly accurate and reliable positioning, navigation and timing service with the aid of a constellation of 35 satellites by around 2020.
Beijing insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, but China’s growing space expertise has been met with concern by the US Defense Department which claims Beijing is pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.