China aims to launch next lunar probe in 2017, to collect lunar samples
BEIJING (Reuters) - China aims to launch its next unmanned lunar probe in 2017, with the key aim of collecting and bringing back lunar samples, an official said on Monday, after the country's first probe landed successfully on the moon over the weekend.
China's leaders have set a priority on advancing its space programme, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.
The Chang'e-3 probe, named after a goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, landed on the moon on Saturday, setting down a lunar rover called the Jade Rabbit.
The development of the Chang'e-5 probe, tasked with the moon sampling mission, is well underway and it is expected to be launched around 2017, a spokesman for the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence said.