China launched its second unmanned Moon mission on Friday, sending the Chang'e II probe on a five-day journey to reach lunar orbit. "The probe plans to test technology in preparation for an unmanned moon landing in 2012, with a possible manned lunar mission to follow in 2017. China's other space plans include the launch of the first module of a future space station next year followed by the dispatch of manned spacecraft to dock with it. ... After its six-month mission, Chang'e II will either land on the moon as an experiment for future probes, fly further into outer space, or change its course and begin orbiting the Earth, Xinhua cited chief designer Huang Jiangchuan as saying." The Planetary Society blog has pictures and video of the launch.
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