China will land a rover on the Moon by year's end

Credit: AmericaSpace

Following China's successful jaunt up to the Tiangong 1 space station, the country's nascent space program is now aiming even higher. By the end of the year, China will be shooting for the metaphorical stars — by going for the Moon.

The mission is called Chang'e-3, and the official Chinese media is now reporting that it has completed its planning and construction phases. By the end of this year (if all goes well), the unmanned Chang'e-3 spacecraft will land a robotic rover on the Moon.

It's not entirely clear exactly what the rover will do on the Moon, especially since the People's Liberation Army runs China's space program — lending a military air of secrecy to to much of what the program is all about. Far from being some sort of sinister plan, however, Chang'e-3 is most likely a symbolic gesture. The original Chang'e was a woman who, in Chinese folklore, lived in a palace upon the Moon. By year's end, her namesake may do just that.

Xinhua, via

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