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The Chinese mission will explore the lunar surface and test its deep space communication technologies.
“What we’re doing now is what some others already did 40 years ago. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re lagging behind by 40 years,” said Qian Weiping, chief designer of the Chang’e-2 mission’s tracking and control system.
“As a major country, China has the responsibility to participate in the activities of outer space for peaceful use and make its own contributions,” Qian added.
The Chang’e 3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit rover. The mission’s success could catapult China’s space program to capture more of the $304-billion global space market.
China’s ambitious space programme includes a quest to build a working space station by 2020.