|Long March 3C rocket carrying China's second unmanned lunar probe, Chang'e II, lifts off from the launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, at 18:59:57 (Beijing time) on Oct. 1, 2010. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
China's 2nd lunar probe Chang'e-2 blasts off
XICHANG, Sichuan, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- China launched its second unmanned lunar probe, Chang'e-2 on Friday, inaugurating the second phase of a three-step moon mission, which will culminate in a soft-landing on the moon.
At 6:59:57 p.m., the satellite blasted off on a Long March 3C carrier rocket from No. 2 launch tower at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
"Chang'e-2 lays foundation for the soft-landing on the moon and further exploration of outer space," said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar orbiter project.
The lunar satellite is expected to take about 112 hours, or almost five days, to arrive at its lunar orbit, faster than the 12 days taken by the Chang'e-1 three years ago.
"It travels faster and closer to the moon, and it will capture clear pictures," Wu said.
Chang'e-2, named after a legendary Chinese goddess of moon, will orbit 100 kilometers above the moon, compared with 200 kilometers for Chang'e-1.
China launched its first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, in October 2007, marking a milestone in the country's space exploration.
China became the third country after Russia and the United States to send a person into space in 2003.
Two more manned space missions followed with the most recent in 2008 involving China's first human space walk.
Special Report: China Launches Lunar Probe Chang'e-2