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China Launches First Moon Rover Mission

Update Date: Dec 02, 2013 02:48 PM EST

Taking a significant step, China on Monday successfully launched a rocket carrying the “Jade Rabbit” which is its first moon rover.

The rocket took off from southwest China on early Monday. It carried the country’s first robotic lunar rover named Jade Rabbit. Jade Rabbit will explore a plain on the moon that is a dark expanse of hardened lava.

“If it’s all successful, it will certainly indicate that they have really come up the learning curve in terms of technology,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College in Rhode Island, to NY Times.

“China’s getting a lot of prestige, which turns into geostrategic influence, from the fact that they are the third country to have manned spaceflight capabilities, that they are going to the moon,” she added.

If every thing goes well, the mission named Chang’s–3 mission will be China’s first “soft landing” on the moon. It will be also first landing after 1976 that allows a craft to operate after descending.

China is progressing towards more and more advancements to space activities. Apart from developing slew of new satellites, the country is developing the BeiDou navigation system which will have a chain of 35 satellites.

“Simple prestige is certainly a key driver in a lot of China’s space programs, in particular the manned space program,” said Mark Stokes, the executive director of the Project 2049 Institute to NY Times. Project 2049 research organization in Washington focused on security issues in Asia. “It’s also a way to mobilize resources and to concentrate resources in a way that could result in certain types of spinoff technologies.”

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