China lands spacecraft on the moon
China has soft landed a spacecraft on the moon. They become the third nation who have accomplished this feat and the first in nearly 40 years.
China's Jade Rabbit rover vehicle drove onto the moon's surface on Sunday after the first lunar soft landing in nearly four decades, a huge advance in the country's ambitious space programme.
The Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, was deployed at 4:35 am (2035 GMT Saturday), several hours after the Chang'e-3 probe landed on the moon, said the official news agency Xinhua.
Both the rover and lander are expected to take photos of each other later Sunday, it said.
China is the third country to complete a lunar rover mission after the United States and the then-Soviet Union -- a decade after it first sent an astronaut into space.
It plans to establish a permanent space station by 2020 and eventually send a human to the moon.
The mission is seen as a symbol of China's rising global stature and technological advancement, as well as the Communist Party's success in reversing the fortunes of the once-impoverished nation.
"One Giant Leap for China," read the headline in Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post, evoking the words in 1969 of American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.
The lunar journey "once again lights up the China Dream", said a Xinhua editorial citing President Xi Jinping's slogan for Chinese advancement.
"Chang'e-3 has successfully carried out a soft landing on the moon. This makes China the world's third nation to achieve a lunar soft landing," the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in an online post on the mission's official page on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter equivalent.
The landing, nearly two weeks after blast-off, was the first of its kind since the former Soviet Union's mission in 1976.
There is more to this than a space stunt. China is dead serious about exploiting the moon's massive mineral mining potential. Several private US companies are also in this race and it's a certainty that one of them will land a man on the moon before China - or NASA for that matter.
NASA isn't going back to the moon, which is just as well. The only reason to go is for commercial purposes, and NASA has no expertise or desire to engage in commerce. There are immense problems in mining on the moon and sending payloads back to earth, but the first to overcome those difficulties will realize enormous profits.