China's Chang'e-3 to land on moon next year

Updated: 2012-11-11 14:10

By Wang Huazhong (chinadaily.com.cn)

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China will launch its latest lunar satellite in the second half of next year, the Chang'e-3, paving the way for a future manned moon landing, a senior space industry official said on Saturday.

Ma Xingrui, general manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said the mission will see the lunar exploration orbiter's first ever soft-landing on the moon.

Ma said the Chang'e-3 would probe and explore the lunar surface, and carry out various environmental and space technology related tests.

It will spend 15 days on the moon to lay the foundations of what he called, further deep space exploration.

China launched Chang'e-1 in 2007 and Chang'e-2 in 2010. The first retrieved lunar data and carried out an initial mapping of the surface, while the second created a full high-resolution map of the moon and high-definition images of the lunar landscape.

After its sampling of the moon's surface, the Chang'e-3 is expected to be retrieved in 2017, according to reports.

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