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China launches second lunar probe

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China launches second lunar probe


China has waved off its second probe to the moon, on the day the country marks 61 years of Communist rule.

Beijing is said to be keen to put its space programme on a par with those of the US and Russia.

The launch is also meant to be symbolic, coming as it does on China’s National Day, which marks Mao Zedong’s proclamation of the founding of the people’s republic in 1949.

The rocket is carrying an orbiter which will rotate 15 kilometres above the lunar surface.

The probe will conduct various tests in preparation for the expected launch in 2013 of China’s first unmanned mission to the moon.

A manned mission has been pencilled in for 2020.

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