In case there was any doubt over whether China did send a spacecraft to the moon, the lunar rover has now begun sending back photos.
Chinese state media have released these pictures taken by the spacecraft's rover, dubbed Jade Rabbit. (Via CNTV)
And they probably won’t be the last we see. The rover is to stay on the moon’s surface, collecting samples for the next three months. (Via ITN)
China made history over the weekend when it became the first country since 1976 to land a spacecraft on the moon. Only the U.S. and the former Soviet Union had also completed a lunar landing. (Via NASA)
While China’s leaders and media hailed the mission as a success, critics were quick to dismiss the achievement.
The Economist wrote, "China is busy re-living the past for much the same reasons that America and the Soviet Union lived it the first time round. … The future lies elsewhere."
But China's space program and the progress it's made is now hard to ignore. Since it sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, China's conducted 18 different space launches.
And The Wall Street Journal notes China’s space ambitions are as much strategic as they are scientific: “Beijing has also used its space capabilities to develop a carrier-killer: the antiship ballistic missile … Space is the perfect environment for asymmetric warfare, which is central to Beijing's military strategy.”
China plans to launch its own permanent space station by 2020 — the same year funding stops for the International Space Station. (Via The Guardian)
Though should China want to remain a part of the space race, it will have to fend off competition from India's aggressive space program, which sent an unmanned mission to Mars earlier this month. (Via Space.com)
Not to mention, the growing list of private companies trying to reach the final frontier. (Via Fox News)
By the way, the name of China’s spacecraft, Jade Rabbit, was chosen in an online poll. It comes from the name of a moon goddess' pet in Chinese mythology.