Calling all moon landing conspiracy theorists: did China really just make the first landing on the Moon in four decades? Or ever? AP reports on China’s lunar beachhead:
China on Saturday successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.
The unmanned Chang’e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth’s nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.
The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called “Yutu,” or “Jade Rabbit,” the goddess’ pet. After landing Saturday evening on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover was slated to separate from the Chang’e eight hours later and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.
China’s space program is an enormous source of pride for the country, the third to carry out a lunar soft landing – which does not damage the craft and the equipment it carries – after the United States and the former Soviet Union. The last one was by the Soviet Union in 1976…
[continues at AP]