BEIJING, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- As an important component of mankind's activities to explore, China's space program, including its on-going lunar probe missions, looks to inspire exploration of the unknown universe and benefit humanity.
Comprising a lander and China's first moon rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, Chang'e-3 lunar probe soft-landed on the moon on Saturday night and released Yutu hours later to the moon's surface. The two photographed each other Sunday night.
Behind each space mission are hundreds even thousands of technological innovations which could benefit related industries and lead to industrial upgrading.
China's lunar probe program brought about breakthroughs in key technologies in the development of carrier rockets, deep space communication, remote control, artificial intelligence, robotics, new materials and new energy.
Many of them can be applied in civilian sectors and play a major role in scientific, national and social development, which could nurture high-tech talent, inspire emerging disciplines and benefit people in the long term.
The Chang'e-3 mission marked completion of the second phase of China's lunar program, which consists of orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.
In the next phase, China plans to launch lunar probe Chang'e-5 in 2017. Chang'e-5 is expected to collect 2 kg of lunar soil samples by drilling two meters down into the moon's surface.
The mission has also laid a solid foundation for future deep space exploration.
The lunar program's chief designer Wu Weiren said China has been capable of exploring Mars since the success of the first two Chang'e missions in 2007 and 2010, though the country has not announced any intention to fly a mission to Mars.
China has been striving to increase the probability of mission success while minimizing time and cost.
Space exploration has been a risky undertaking. Only about 40 percent of the 118 lunar probe attempts by the United States and the Soviet Union during the space race in the 1960s and 1970s, had been successful.
China has carried out its lunar exploration program as much as financial and technical conditions have allowed.
Compared with the 2 to 2.5 percent of GDP input by the U.S. on its lunar exploration program at that time, China's input - only a few ten-thousandth of the country's GDP - is not very much, according to chief designer Wu Weiren.
China's lunar probe program is an open program.
China has cooperated with other countries and international organizations in previous missions.
Data collected through the Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 probes are open to scientists across the world.
China shared information collected by Chang'e-1 with the European Space Agency. An agency aerospace control center and three of its telecommand telemetry control stations took part in the Chang'e-3 mission.
More international cooperation is expected in the next stage of the lunar program.
The completion of the third phase will not mean an end to China's lunar probe program, it should instead be a new starting point.
China has yet to announce its space plans beyond the third phase of the lunar probe. The success of the Chang'e-3 mission, however, has expanded its horizon in space travel and opened the door for future deep space exploration.