China Steps Up the Space race: Lunar Probe This year

A Chinese Long March 3C rocket launches the unmanned Chang'e 2 lunar probe toward the moon on Oct. 1, 2010 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Credit: CALT

Long March 3C rocket launches the unmanned Chang’e 2 lunar probe Oct. 1, 2010 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center – Credit: CALT

China will launch a lander and rover to the moon by the end of this year, officials announced Wednesday, part of an ambitious plan to return samples from the lunar surface by 2017 and send humans within the next decade.

China will send a rover to the moon by the end of the year, officials announced Wednesday. Though it was originally slated for September, officials are now planning to launch early December 2 local time (December 1 in the US).

“The Chang’e-3 mission makes best use of a plethora of innovative technology. It is an extremely difficult mission that carries great risk,” said Ma Xingrui, head of China’s space exploration body and chief commander of the lunar program. Read the rest of this entry »