China Aims to Land on the Moon in 2013
China attempts to land an exploratory craft on the moon for the first time in the second half of next year. This is the next step in an ambitious space program that includes building a space station.
If this launch remains a success, it would be China's first on the lunar surface and marks a new milestone in its space development.
It was back in 2007, when China launched its first orbiter, the Chang'e One orbiter. It was named after a lunar goddess, and it was used to capture images of the surface that helped in analyzing the distribution of elements. In 2010, Chang'e Two orbiter was launched.
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The 2007 launch marked the first step in China's three stage moon mission, followed by unmanned moon mission and then the retrieval of lunar soil and stone samples around 2017.
Change Three is expected to carry our surveys on the surface of the moon when it is launched in 2013. The team even plans to send a man to moon after 2020.
Last month was a joyous moment, when China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft returned to Earth ending a mission that put the country's first woman in space and completed a manned docking test critical to its goal of building a space station by 2020.