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Chang'e 3, China's Lunar Lander and Rover

Chang'e 3 will be the first soft lunar lander from Earth since 1976 when the Russians were the last to visit the Moon by a soft landing. China's first attempt at a soft landing will deploy a wheeled lunar surface rover. Scheduled for launch in 2013, it follows the highly successful Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 lunar orbital probes.

Chang'e 3 will deploy a 6 wheel rover which is about 1.5 meters tall and 120 kg. Its design and development started in 2002 at the Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute where a simulated lunar environment was built. Construction of the probe itself was completed in 2010 so that it is ready to go as soon as the soft lander is made. The rover has the capability to dig and analyze samples, transmit live video, and continue operations during the lunar night. The main mission will last 3 months, which includes, of course, 3 lunar nights.

Construction of the soft lander started in March 2012. It will also operate for 3 months from its stationary position, independently from the rover.

Chang'e 3 will land in a flat region at a latitude of 44 degrees North, in the Sirus Iridum lava plain.

After Chang'e 3, there is planned a Chang'e 4 lander and robot sometime in the future, followed by a Chinese manned mission sometime around the year 2025.

External links:

Chang'e 3 on wikipedia > Lunar Resources (Mining The Moon) > Probes, History and Future > Chang-e 3 lander (China)

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