China will launch its third lunar probe, Chang’e-3, in the second half of 2013, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.
The launch of the Chang’e-3, named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, is part of the second step of China’s three-phrase lunar probe project of orbiting, landing and returning.
China began its quest for the moon in October 2007, when it launched its first lunar probe, the Chang’e-1.
The probe went into orbit around the moon, transmitting pictures of the moon’s surface back to Earth before crashing to the surface at the end of its mission under the direction of Chinese scientists.
China’s second moon orbiter, the Chang’e-2, sent back its first batch of data while orbiting the second Lagrange Point (L2) about 1.7 million km away from Earth.