2 Oct 2010

China launches moon rocket

11:50 am on 2 October 2010

China has launched its second rocket carrying a probe destined for the Moon.

A Long March 3C rocket with the Chang'e-2 probe took off from Xichang launch centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan at about 1100 GMT on Friday.

The rocket will take the craft into a trans-lunar orbit, after which the satellite is expected to reach the Moon in about five days.

The BBC reports Chang'e-2 will be used to test key technologies and collect data for future landings.

China says it will send a rover on its next mission and it has ambitions to put humans on the surface of the moon at some future date.

The Xinhua news agency said Chang'e-2 would circle 15km above the surface in order to take photographs of possible landing locations.

It is China's second lunar probe - the first was launched in 2007. The craft stayed in space for 16 months before being crashed on to the Moon's surface.

China launched a manned flight into low-Earth orbit in 2003. Two more have since followed, with the most recent one in 2008.