Jade Rabbit lunar rover
China's Jade Rabbit - or Yutu - rover is the first robot to land on the Moon in almost 40 years. The Chang'e-3 mission blasted off from Xichang in southern China on December 1, 2013, and landed on the Moon’s surface on December 14. Developed by Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute and Beijing Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering, the lunar rover was designed to explore an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) during its 3-month mission.
Moon landing ‘100pc made in China’, says Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping said China should be proud of its moon landing last month, stressing it was a national accomplishment.
“The Chang-e 3 mission was one of China’s most complex and difficult missions in aerospace,” Xi told staffers of the space programme at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Monday morning to congratulate them on the mission.
“It was a real and genuine Chinese product,” he said, according to the Xinhua news agency. “The most fundamental point is that China’s space industry insists on self-reliant and independent innovation.”
Moon rover Jade Rabbit rolled onto the moon from the Chang’e-3 landing spacecraft on December 14 in what has become milestone success in China’s intentions to send humans to the moon by 2020. It was the first moon landing since a Soviet mission in 1976.
Contrary to Xi’s claims, scientists have noted that the design of the moon rover has borrowed heavily from previous Soviet and American versions.
Only the wheels seem to differ from the American Opportunity rover, with solar panels, a long neck fronted by cameras and a robotic arm set at the front chest, scientists have said. The wheels seem borrowed from its Soviet counterpart.
During the mission, the European Space Agency said it offered “crucial support” for the moon mission, assisting in tracking the shuttle and pinpointing the landing.
Their American counterparts were barred from assisting in the mission by a clause in US congress budget allocation since 2012. Under the ban, Nasa may not “develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, programme, order or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate or co-ordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company”.
Premier Li Keqiang and the other five members of the Communist Party’s Standing Committee and most members of the Central Military Commission also attended the meeting.