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Zhang Zhenzhong, director of the launch center in Xichang, confirmed a successful launch.
“The probe has already entered the designated orbit. We will strive for our space dream as part of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation,” said Zhang.
The probe’s carrier, an enhanced Long March-3B rocket, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 1:30 am (local time).
The mission will explore the lunar surface and test its deep space communication technologies.
Chang’e-3 is expected to land on the moon in mid-December, the first in the 21st century. The mission’s success could catapult China’s space program to capture more of the $304-billion global space market.
The probe entered the earth-moon transfer orbit as scheduled, with a perigee of 200 kilometers and apogee of 380,000 kilometers.
China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third country after Russia and the United States to achieve independent manned space travel.
Meanwhile, India’s first mission to Mars left Earth’s orbit early on Sunday, clearing a critical hurdle in its journey to the red planet.
Top administrative officials said Chinese space scientists are “looking forward to cooperation with other countries, including the country’s close neighbor India”.
“We are open in our lunar program, and cooperation from other countries is welcome,” Li Benzheng, deputy commander-in-chief of China’s lunar program said.
“We hope to explore and use space for more resources to promote human development,” he said.
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.