Page last updated at 20:44 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Chinese probe crashes into moon

A Long March rocket launch (file photo)
The probe was launched in 2007 and mapped the moon's surface

A Chinese lunar probe has crashed into the moon in what Beijing has called a controlled collision.

The Chang'e 1 lunar satellite hit the moon's surface at 1613 local time (0813 GMT) at the end of a 16-month moon-mapping mission.

China launched the spacecraft in late October 2007 on a mission to survey the entire surface of the moon.

China's ever-more ambitious space programme includes plans for a space station and landing a man on the moon.

Future missions

Launched into space on one of China's Long March 3A rockets, the probe mapped the moon's surface using stereo radar.

Chang'e 1 was under the remote control of two stations in Qingda, eastern China, and Kashgar in the north-west of the country, the Xinhua news agency said.

China became only the third nation - after the Soviet Union and the US - to put a manned spacecraft in orbit in 2003.

State media said on Sunday China would launch a space module next year and carry out the country's first space docking.

"The module, called Tiangong-1, will provide a "safe room" for Chinese astronauts to live and conduct scientific research in zero gravity," Chinese state media said.

"Weighing about 8.5 tonnes, Tiangong-1 is able to perform a long-term unattended operation, which will be an essential step toward building a space station," it added.

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