China will launch its second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, in October 2010, and its first lunar rover before 2013, national media reported on Friday, citing a top space scientist.
According to Ye Peijian, chief designer of the nation's first moon probe, the new lunar orbiter will feature "a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera on board, which has a much higher resolution than the camera on China's first lunar probe."
"It will orbit 100 km closer to the moon [than the first probe] and will be equipped with better facilities. We expect to acquire more scientific data about the moon with increased accuracy," China daily quoted Ye Peijian as saying.
The scientist also said Chang'e-3, China's first lunar lander and rover, is scheduled to be launched on board a Long March 3B launch vehicle from the Xichang space center in southwestern China by 2013.
The first Chinese lunar landing mission in the Sinus Iridium (Bay of Rainbows) will explore the geological structure of the Moon in search of usable resources.
Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 are part of the second phase of China's lunar exploration program, which started in 2007 when China successfully put an unmanned probe, Chang'e-1, into lunar orbit. The spacecraft transmitted pictures of the moon's surface in January 2008.
The ultimate goal of the Chinese project is to put a man on the Moon by 2020 and build a space base on the Earth's natural satellite by 2050.
China became the third nation after the United States and Russia to put people in space when Yang Liwei went into orbit aboard the Shenzhou-V spacecraft on Oct 15, 2003.
Another three astronauts traveled to space in Shenzhou-VII vehicle and carried out the country's first space walk in September 2008.
BEIJING, November 27 (RIA Novosti)