December 16, 2013

China Goes to the Moon


Keith: Next up today, we are talking about space exploration. And it takes some pretty sophisticated technology to make it up there. So when a country blasts off to the beyond, it is something people pay attention to. Here is Maggie Rulli with a closer look at what China is doing in their latest mission.

Maggie: It might be hard to see in this video, but China made history over the weekend, becoming the first country in nearly forty years to successfully soft land on the Moon’s surface. That means China’s robot rover, known as Jade Rabbit, made a controlled landing and will now be able to explore the Moon’s surface, studying the structure of the lunar crust as well as soil and rocks for at least three months.

China is now one of only three nations to have ever made a soft landing on the Moon along with the United States and the country formerly called the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union broke up into several countries, one of them Russia.

In the 1950s and 60s, the Soviet Union and the United States were battling it out in a space race. In 1957, the Soviet Union became the first country to launch a satellite, Sputnik, into space, and the first to shoot a living creature into space. But the United States was determined to win the competition and, in 1969, the U.S. became the first country to put a man on the moon.

Neil Armstrong: That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Maggie: Today, many in China see the country’s ambitious space program as a way to further China’s superpower status internationally. The front page on the South China Morning Post even declared the Chinese moon landing as, ‘One giant leap for China,’ a play on words from the famous American quote.

In addition to international respect, other reasons for space exploration include the development of better technology and the hope that discoveries made in space could help answer unknown questions about our universe.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. And in just ten years, the country has rapidly built up its space program with 18 space launches in 2012, according to the Pentagon.

Yet unlike the space race of the 1960s, China seems less focused on a manned mission to the Moon and more focused on the modernization of space – things like satellite development, improved rovers technology, and orbital platforms that could lead to the ability to send weapons from space.

China’s progress comes at the same time that the U.S. has been criticized for scaling back its space exploration programs in recent years. And this weekend’s moon landing has some wanting the U.S. to get back in the space race.

Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.

Keith: For more about China’s rover, visit to


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