In case you forgot that China is a superpower, here is a reminder: in about an half an hour China will launch its lunar rover mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province (southern China).
The landing module containing Yutu is set to do a soft landing in mid-December, in Sinus Iridum (Latin for Bay of Rainbows) a flat volcanic plain relatively clear of large rocks. Yutu will roam the lunar surface for at least 90 Earth days, covering an area of about five square kilometres. It will analyze the moon with ground-penetrating radar, send probes beneath the surface, and take high-resolution images of the rock.
There is lots of buzz about the future of China’s space program and why they want to go to the moon. However there is little talk about the strategic and military implications.
China to launch lunar rover Jade Rabbit mission (BBC News)
Why China is fixated on the moon (BBC News)
In the footsteps of the US: Why next man on Moon will be Chinese (The Independent)
Why historic lunar mission is a daunting test for China’s scientists (South China Morning Post)