XICHANG, Sichuan, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- China launched its first lunar probe on Wednesday, the first step into its ambitious three-stage moon mission, marking a new milestone in the country's space exploration history.
The circumlunar satellite Chang'e-1 blasted off on a Long March3A carrier rocket at 6:05 p.m. from the No. 3 launching tower in the Xichang Satellite Launch Center of southwestern Sichuan Province.
Chinese space experts, technicians and other work staff, joined by experts from Japan, Germany and other countries as well as millions of domestic audience from across the country, were watching the launching process.
Chang'e-1, named after a legendary Chinese goddess who is said to have flied to the moon, is expected to enter earth-moon transfer orbit on October 31 and arrive in the moon's orbit on November 5.
Flying to the moon is the nation's long cherished dream, as Chang'e has been worshipped as the "moon lady" for thousands of years. She floated toward the sky and finally landed on the moon, where she became a goddess accompanied by a jade rabbit, after taking a bottle of elixir.