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China's 'Jade Rabbit' lunar landing declared successful

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The images are startling from the world's oldest satellite. Bright, color images of the Chinese flag have been transmitted back from China's 'Jade Rabbit' rover vehicle. The occasion marked the first lunar "soft landing" in nearly 40 years.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The landing marked a huge advance in China's space program. The Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, was deployed several hours after the Chang'e-3 probe landed on the moon.

Both the rover and lander began taking photos of each other, including the one that showed the bright red and yellow stars of the Chinese flag.

China's official news agency, Xinhua said the photographing began at about 11:42 pm after the rover moved to a spot a few meters away from the lander. Transmitted live to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang were both on hand to view the interplanetary broadcast.

China is only third country to complete a lunar rover mission. The United States and the former Soviet Union haven't sent an astronaut into space in 10 years. The landing was the first of its kind since the former Soviet Union's mission in 1976.

Part of China's plans include establishing a permanent space station by 2020, Their space program eventually wants to send a human to the moon. The landing is being cited as proof of China's rising global stature and technological advancement.

Ma Xingrui, chief commander of China's lunar program, declared the mission a "complete success" after the transmission of the photographs.

A message from the party's Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission branded the touchdown a "milestone" in China's space program. "One Giant Leap for China," read the headline in Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post, echoing the words of American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon in 1969.

The potential to extract the moon's resources has been touted as a key reason behind Beijing's space program, with the moon believed to hold uranium, titanium, and other mineral resources.

"China wants to go to the moon for geo-strategic reasons and domestic legitimacy," China space expert Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island said.



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