China launches its first moon rover mission

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Associated Press

Posted on December 1, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 1 at 9:30 PM

BEIJING (AP) — China has launched its first mission to land a rover on the moon that will transmit images and survey the moon's surface. The spacecraft is expected to land in mid-December.

The official Xinhua News Agency said a Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang'e 3 lander blasted off Monday as scheduled at 1:30 a.m. from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China.

If the mission goes as planned, the Chang'e 3 will become China's first spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.

The moon rover will survey the moon's geological structure and surface substances.

China's military-backed space program is a source of enormous national pride and has powered ahead in a series of well-funded, methodically timed steps.

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