China’s National Space Administration has scheduled a launch of the Chang’e 3 for a lunar exploration mission in late 2013. According to Ye Peijian (叶培建), a space scientist and the chief engineer for the program, the mission will operate by incorporating a robotic lander and a rover; it is part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.
This will be China’s first lunar rover and the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon since the Soviet Luna 24 mission in 1976. It is named after Chang’e, the Chinese goddess of the Moon and is a follow-up to the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 lunar orbiters. Chang’e 3 will perform tasks that include a soft landing on the Moon, lunar surface exploration, survival on the lunar surface, deep space communications, remote operations, and a carrier rocket directly entering the Earth-Moon transfer orbits. The Chang’e 3 lander is said to be carrying an astronomical telescope and an extreme ultraviolet camera. The rover is said to be carrying radar for lunar exploration.
Source: Xinhua, March 3, 2013