China's self-serving moon shot

On Saturday, China became only the third country to land a module safely on the moon. With half a billion impoverished citizens this expensive project makes little sense – except as a geopolitical power play.

China’s first lunar rover was launched from Chang’e-3, an unmanned spacecraft, and successfully landed on the moon last Saturday. Cutely named Jade Rabbit (or Yutu in Chinese,) the six-wheeled lunar rover is equipped with four cameras and two mechanical legs that can dig into soil samples to a depth of about thirty metres. The solar-powered vehicle will patrol the moon’s surface and study the lunar crust for at least three months. This achievement means that China is one of only three nations – after America and former Soviet Union – to land a vehicle on the moon’s surface.

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