China's lunar exploration program is divided into three stages: orbiting, landing and recovery.
In Stage One, which started in 2004, China developed and launched its first lunar probe satellite to orbit the Moon. During this stage, the main tasks were to study the lunar topography and mantle, elements and material composition, lunar soil properties and Earth-Moon space environment.
In Stage Two, which is around 2013, an unmanned vehicle will be sent to land on the Moon to explore and examine the topography, geological structure and material composition of the landing area and begin the Moon-based astronomical observation.
The program is expected to enter Stage Three before 2020, featuring the landing of an automated lunar vehicle on the Moon to collect rock samples and bring them back for analysis and research.
(Source: Xinhua News Agency)