China's Space Ambitions Advance with Moon Landing
China's Chang-e space probe to made a planned crash landing onto the lunar surface yesterday. The 16-month journey was the first leg of China's moon mission, which is expected to lead to a soft landing and the launch of a rover vehicle by 2012, Xinhua news said. In 2017, China will launch a second rover, which will gather geological samples and take them back to Earth. China has separately announced it will launch a space module next year, and carry out its first space docking in 2011, in preparation for its goal of building a space station. The Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace-1") module has been designed to operate unattended for large periods of time, but will also be used to conduct zero gravity experiments. In 2003, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei became the first person to be launched into space by China's space program. China was the third nation, after the US and Russia, to launch an astronaut into space.