China will land its first unmanned probe on the moon by the end of the year, state media have reported.
It’s the second phase of a three-stage programme aimed at orbiting, landing on and returning from the moon.
“Chang’e-3 has officially entered its launch implementation stage following its research and construction period,” the Chinese government said in a statement, reported by Xinhua news agency.
The Chang’e-3, named after a lunar goddess, will complete a soft landing on the moon – a technique of slowing the craft without a parachute – and then explore the surface.
China launched two lunar orbiters, Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2, in 2007 and 2010 and captured scientific data and high-resolution images.
It hopes to retrieve lunar soil and stone samples by 2017 in the programme’s third and final phase.
There are also plans to build a working space station by 2020 and eventually send a man to the moon.
Latest posts by Sebastien Clarke (see all)
- SpaceX launches fifth batch of Starlink satellites, misses booster landing - February 18, 2020
- Cygnus launches to space station - February 16, 2020
- NASA signals interest in Venus and volcanoes for next science missions - February 14, 2020