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China launches Jade Rabbit rover, kicks off Chang'e 3 moon mission

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China began stage one of its Chang'e 3 mission yesterday afternoon by launching a Long March 3B rocket toward the troposphere, destined for the moon. The Jade Rabbit, a robotic rover, managed to hop along for the ride with intentions of roaming our rocky satellite's surfaces. Lunar touchdown is scheduled for December 14th, which marks the first time a craft will settle down on the ole' ball of cheese since the Soviet's Luna 24 mission in 1976. Between Virgin Galactic and the Google-backed Lunar X Prize competition, traveling throughout the universe may finally be less of a science fiction fantasy and more of an everyday reality -- one that China isn't ignoring. According to the deputy engineer-in-chief in charge of the second phase of China's lunar program, Sun Huixian, "China's space exploration will not stop at the moon... Our target is deep space."

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