Beijing — China is prepared to launch its first ever moon rover mission on Monday, said state media.
The rocket carrying the six-wheeled moon vehicle is scheduled to blast off at 1:30 am local time.
The rover was named ‘Yutu’, or Jade rabbit, from an online poll in which over 3 million people voted.
The name comes from an ancient Chinese myth about a white rabbit that lives on the moon as the pet of a lunar goddess named Chang’e.
A successful launch would be a major mark in the ambitious Chinese space exploration program, which aims to set up a permanent space station by the year 2020 and eventually send someone to the moon.
Beijing views its military-run space program as evidence of its rise on the global stage and growing technological might.
The program’s current technology, however, lags behind that of the United States and Russia.
China has previously sent two probes to orbit the moon.
Shanghai Aerospace Systems Engineering Research Institute, which designed the rover, claims several technological breakthroughs with the vehicle.
These include its autonomous navigation system and the way the wheels are able to grip the powdery surface of the moon, said reports.
The institute says it can climb inclines up to 30 degrees and travel up to 200 meters per hour.