China’s space program continues to move right on schedule. In 2009, the country stated that it planned to put a rover on the Moon by 2013. On Wednesday, it was announced that, yes, this mission will happen by the end of the year.
Although China has launched several orbiters, including two to the Moon, if the mission is successful, it will mark the first time that China has landed a rover on an actual celestial body.
The Chang’e-3 Lunar probe will be launched by the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. It includes a six-wheeled lunar rover, which will work on the surface for about three months.
If the Chang’e-3 mission is successful, China will then begin phase 3 of its Lunar exploration program, which will involve a rover to be sent to the Moon in 2017, where it will collect samples from the Moon’s surface and then return to Earth. After that, China will begin its next step – landing humans on the Moon.