March 1, 2009 / 12:30 PM / 10 years ago

China's lunar probe ends mission

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s lunar probe has ended its 16-month life with a planned crash into the moon, the official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

Named for a moon goddess, the Chang’e-1 rammed into the lunar surface in the mid-afternoon Beijing time, after orbiting the moon thousands of times to map its surface.

The probe was the first step in plans to land a vehicle on the moon in 2012. Before the moon-lander, China will send Chang’e-2 satellite to fulfill another mission.

Last autumn China also launched its third manned space mission, with live-to-air footage of its first spacewalk captivating the nation.

Beijing officials have said the country is looking to eventually put astronauts on the moon, but the government has not announced any schedule for that task.

Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison

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