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Asia-pacific

China launches its first lunar rover mission

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-01

China on Monday launched its first ever moon rover mission, becoming the third nation to do so as the country advances its ambitious space programme.

China on Monday launched its first ever lunar rover, marking a milestone development in the country's ambitious space exploration programme, state TV showed.

The Chang'e Three rocket carrying the unmanned buggie took off at around 1.30 a.m. (Sunday 0530 GMT), the CCTV official broadcaster showed in live footage from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's southwest.

The "Jade Rabbit" vehicle, named after a rabbit in Chinese folklore that lives on the moon as lunar goddess Chang’e’s pet, will be the world’s third rover mission to land on the moon, with both the United States and the former Soviet Union having done so previously.

The mission is aimed at exploring the moon’s surface and to look for rare metals.

Advancing China's space programme has been a priority for the leadership, with President Xi Jinping calling for China to establish itself as a space superpower. Scientists have discussed the possibility of building a space station by 2020 and then sending a man to the moon.

Beijing insists its space programme is for peaceful purposes, but the US Defence Department has highlighted China's increasing space capabilities and said it was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2013-12-01

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