China’s First Moon Rover Blasts Off

If China’s lunar rover successfully soft-lands on the moon, then it will be the third country to have accomplished this feat.

The Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang’e-3 lunar probe blasts off from the launch pad at Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province December 2, 2013. China Daily / Reuters

China’s Long March-3B rocket blasted off Monday at 1:30 a.m. reports the Associated Press. The lunar rover it is carrying is scheduled to arrive on the moon in mid-December to survey and transmit images.

“We will strive for our space dream as part of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation,” Zhang Zhenzhong, the launch center’s director, said after the successful start.

If the Long March-3B rocket’s Chang’e 3 rover makes a soft-landing on the moon, China will only be the third country to do so, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

In 2003 China became the third country to independently send a person into space in, and in 2007 a Chinese craft collected data while it orbited the moon before intentionally crash-landing.

Chinese officials aim to make space travel a major priority for the country and have discussed the possibility of sending a human to the moon some time after 2020.

The Long March 3B rocket is seen docked at the launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Liangshan, Sichuan province December 1, 2013. China Stringer Network / Reuters

The Long March 3B rocket carrying the Chang’e-3 lunar probe blasts off from the launch pad at Xichang Satellite Launch Center, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Monday.

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