An eclipse is seen in at the Bund along the Huangpu River in Shanghai (Photo : Reuters)
China plans to send an exploratory spacecraft to the moon in effort to put a man on the moon in the future.
The lunar probe, which will be China's third, will launch in the later 2013. The probe will attempt to test the moon's surface. If the mission if successful, it will be the first spacecraft to land on the moon as opposed to the standard crash landing.
Like Us on Facebook
"If you want to be world leader in space, then you have to do missions like this," said independent space analyst Morris Jones to Phys.org. "[China] want a space program that can be considered one of the finest in the world."
The probe has been called Chang'e-3, after the Chinese moon goddess. The mission contains three important parts, according to the Chinese Xinhua news agency. China wants its spacecraft to orbit, land, and return from the moon. The difference between this and previous Chinese lunar probes is the first two did not reach to the moon's surface.
In the last ten years, China has performed multiple space tasks in efforts to have its space program taken seriously next to Russia and the US. In 2003, China sent its first man in space with Yang Liwei, China launched its first lunar probe in 2007 followed by another in 2010, and more recently sent its first Chinese women to space with Liu Yang.
The lunar probe, if successful, would be the first spacecraft to land on the moon since the Soviet Union's probe in the 1970s. China hopes the mission will lead to the development of a space station by the year 2020.
The Chang'e-3 lunar probe is expected to launch from the Xichange Satellite Center in China's Sichuan province.