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Last Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007, 11:38 GMT
China unveils Moon probe images
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveils the moon image at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (26/11/2007)
The image was pieced together from 19 separate pictures
China has revealed the first pictures of the Moon captured by the unmanned module it launched a month ago.

The images from the Chang'e I probe were hailed as a milestone in Chinese space exploration, after the success of satellites and manned space flights.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said the mission showed China was "fully able to stand tall among the world's ranks of advanced nations".

The probe is expected to orbit the Moon for a year scanning its entire surface.

The new image, pieced together from 19 different pictures of the Moon's surface, was unveiled by Mr Wen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre (BACC).

He said the mission was helping to realise China's ancient dream of reaching the moon.

"The Chinese people have the will, confidence and ability to constantly compose fine new chapters as we scale the peaks of modern science and technology," he said.

Asian 'space race'

In 2003 China became only the third country to send a human into space.

But Sun Laiyan, head of the China National Space Administration, told a news conference that China has no immediate plans to land a man on the moon.

"I've heard of foreign reports which say China will put a man on the moon by 2020, but I don't know of such a plan," he said.

"Please don't give us any more pressure. But I'm confident one day we'll put an astronaut on the moon."

Some analysts have said there is an undeclared space race in Asia, with Japan and India also investing heavily in space research and travel.

Earlier this year China triggered international concern by destroying a weather satellite as part of a weapons test.

But China has insisted it wants to work with other countries on peaceful space exploration.

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