On December 14, China's lunar probe Chang'e-3 successfully landed on the moon. Later, the lunar rover Yutu, meaning jade rabbit, separated from the lander and set out on its adventure across the moon's surface. The monumental event makes China the third country to successfully soft land a probe on the moon after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
According to Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's lunar exploration program, the country has mapped out three phases for exploring the moon: unmanned exploration, a manned lunar landing, and eventually establishing a base on the moon. It will mainly focus on the unmanned exploration before 2020.
In 2007, China launched Chang'e-1, the country's first lunar probe, which successfully surveyed the moon from orbit. In 2010, China's second lunar probe flew out to the moon and similarly preformed observations from orbit. Followed its predecessors, Chang'e-3 performs a series of new missions, soft landing on the moon, analyzing materials on the moon's surface and sending data back to Earth automatically.
China has always conformed to the principle of a peaceful use of space when carrying out its space exploration program. The lunar exploration program is China's choice based on its scientific, technological and economic strength. The lunar exploration program will advance the country's development across various aspects, including aerospace technology, space science, communication technology as well as new materials and new energy. China's lunar exploration program is a new start for the country's aerospace industry.