Chinese rover dispatched to the moon


Posted: December 1, 2013

A six-wheeled robotic rover named Yutu rode a Long March rocket into space Sunday on China's first lunar landing mission, marking an auspicious start to a four-day journey to the moon.

The Yutu rover, mounted on a stationary rocket-powered landing platform, will touch down on the moon Dec. 14. If it makes it, the Chinese mission will be the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the moon since 1976.

The lunar landing mission is named Chang'e 3, the third Chinese lunar probe following a pair of orbiters launched in 2007 and 2010.

Packed with a ground-piercing radar, cameras, spectrometers and plutonium-powered heaters, the rover lifted off at 1730 GMT (12:30 p.m. EST) Sunday from the Xichang launching base in southern China's Sichuan province. Launch occurred at 1:30 a.m. Beijing time Monday.

The liftoff was broadcast on Chinese state television.

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Photo credit: CCTV

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