China's Chang'e-3 makes successful Moon landing


December 14, 2013

Artist's conception of YuTu lunar rover deployment from China's Chang'e-3 lunar lander (Image: CNSA)

Artist's conception of YuTu lunar rover deployment from China's Chang'e-3 lunar lander (Image: CNSA)

Following 12 minutes of precise maneuvering which began in lunar orbit, China's Chang'e-3 lunar lander, with the Yu Tu (Jade Rabbit) lunar rover onboard, successfully landed on the Moon's surface at 13:11 UT Saturday night. At this point, Chang'e-3's solar panels were opened to begin charging the rover's batteries for its first drive about the lunar surface, which is expected to begin about seven hours after landing.

Chang'e-3 began its descent from the lowest part of its orbit, some 15 km (9 miles) above the Moon's surface. During its descent to an altitude of 2 km (1.2 mi), deceleration reduced the 1.71 km/s (1.06 mi/s) orbital velocity of the Chang'e-3 to zero. At 2 km altitude, the automatic landing sequence cut in, setting Chang'e-3 on course for its landing in Sinus Iridum (Sea of Rainbows) without further control from Earth.

At an altitude of 100 meters (330 ft), the Chang'e-3 began to hover over the surface, building a map of ground conditions and landing obstacles. Hovering was planned to last up to 100 seconds, but actually only took about 20 seconds.

A brief pause was taken at an altitude of 30 meters to further refine the approach. Once the landing site was chosen autonomously, Chang'e-3 edged down to an altitude of 4 meters, at which point the rocket was cut off, and the lander fell the rest of the way, landing on the surface with impact-absorbing legs.

China Central Television has now reported that the lander has deployed its solar panels, and has established X-band telemetry with Earth. The Jade Rabbit rover is being charged and initialized before it will be unlocked from its storage configuration during the flight. The rover will then establish its own separate data link with Earth, deploy its mast and panels, and moves onto its unloader, which lowers YuTu to the lunar surface, a process that will take several hours. At this point both the lander and rover will take panoramic images of their immediate surroundings before the rover begins local exploration.

Congratulations, China! It is about time someone went back to the Moon, and you did it in style. This video shows the soft landing from orbit to ground.

Source: CCTV

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer. All articles by Brian Dodson

Excellent! I wonder if this is a Google Lunar X-Prize entry? Or not since it's not a private company?


Congratulations, China catches up to the 1960s.


@ b@man,

You got to hand it to them for bringing it up to date.


Now we finally know howLockheed came up with that designation. Not Dragon Lady, but Jade Rabbit. Who'd have thunk? :-P


Sad it takes them 50 yrs to do such after others. Yes quite an achievement, Not!!

What they need is a clean power race, not a space one before so many more Chinese die and other nations too from China's pollution.

And they should figure out how to build a jet engine which they still can't.

So many things they need to do but they get moon shots worth little but a sad little ego trip, instead of making their people's lives better.


Our International Studies professor had been a visiting university lecturer in China, where her mother had also taught at that level. She told us this:

During the war, in a class being taught during the bombing of Nanking, a girl stood up at one of the explosions. When the teacher reminded her that this was not allowed, she replied:

"I am sorry, but the bomb hit my family's home. My family have all just been killed."

And then she sat back down, and the lesson continued. An example, our professor told us, of the kind of commitment to education that they have in China.

Jokers and know-it-alls, being as they are, will make light of China's rapid progress. More mature people will not.


That's funny to laugh. How about asking US government to share their's technology with every other country on earth? Then we could leave every country concerning only their own people.

Fan Chen

Congrats, China.

Now can you go over to Tranquility Base where Apollo 11 landed and PROVE that we actually landed, and it wasn't a hoax ?!?

Or, are the Chinese in on the hoax too ???


@ jerryd,

How many countries has achieved what the US, Russia and China did? Not UK or Australia. China's technology progress is coming on stream, even jet engines which are at a young stage. Many of their accomplishments are at basic level that are not see here on Gizmag.


We won the space race against the Soviets. It seems that some aren't even aware we're in a race with the Chinese, and that we can't afford to lose this one, either.


You can make cheap jibes, but no other nation on earth except China will be capable of developing a Space Elevator...... because the Western world is bankrupt.


China and Russia are capable of producing aerospace technologies at a fraction of the cost of the USA.

The americans can innovate, but may go broke trying to stay ahead of the pack.


what a bunch of sore losers, just because USA is busying bashing science education at all levels, doesn't mean others should not be congratulated to keep on space exploration.

The political nuts are responsible for the dim future of US's space exploration, and higher education as a whole, not other country, surely not Chang'e's success.

Chris Levin

The moon landing was a monumental development. Note that it coincided with the 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo 8 trans lunar mission. We are one step closer to becoming a true interplanetary species.


I am astounded at the small thinking and ignorance of SOME of these comments posted. It is little wonder that we can't help but accelerate ourselves to extinction while destroying as much of the life around us as possible.

Stephen Hill
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