UPDATE!! 1st December 2013 2030 GMT
Xinhua: The probe’s carrier, an enhanced Long March-3B rocket, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 1:30 a.m. Chang’e-3 is expected to land on the moon in mid-December to become China’s first spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.
It is also the first moon lander launched in the 21st century. The probe entered the earth-moon transfer orbit as scheduled, with a perigee of 200 kilometers and apogee of 380,000 kilometers. “The probe has already entered the designated orbit,” said Zhang Zhenzhong, director of the launch center in Xichang. “I now announce the launch was successful.”
Various Xinhua reports
China will launch the Chang’e-3 lunar probe to the moon at 1:30 a.m. Monday from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, The Chang’e-3 programme encompasses a lander and a moon rover called “Yutu” (Jade Rabbit). The Chang’e-3 mission is the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth. It follows the success of the Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.
Artist’s conception of the Chinese moon rover, called Yutu. Credit: CNSA
The probe will be launched to orbit aboard an enhanced Long March-3B carrier which is more than three meters in diameter and 56.4 meters high. The mission will be the 25th launch of the Long March-3B, which is the most powerful launch vehicle in the Long March fleet.
After entering lunar orbit, Chang’e-3 will go through six stages of deceleration to descend from 15 km above to the lunar surface. The soft-landing processes of the U.S. and former Soviet Union’s unmanned spacecraft had no capacity to hover or avoid obstacles. Chang’e-3, on the other hand, can accurately survey landforms at the landing site and identify the safest spots on which to land.
In order to land quickly, the probe is equipped with high-precision, fast-response sensors to analyze its motion and surroundings. The variable thrust engine (completely designed and made by Chinese scientists) can generate up to 7,500 newtons of thrust.
But the real story I like of Chang’e and her Hou Yi and the reincarnation of Hou Yi as a Jade Bunny is this one from Over A Cuppa Tea. A Jade Bunny is much more evocative than a Jade Rabbit. Chang Er is perhaps a better phonetic rendition of Chang’e.
Once upon a time, there live two immortals in the Heaven, they are Hou Yi and Chang Er. Hou yi and Chang Er were lovers who goes through great obstacle before their love is approved by the Heaven.
The Heaven was ruled by the Jade Emperor and his Empress. One day, ten sons of Jade emperor accidentally transformed into the sun, and revolves around the earth playfully, causing great drought and suffering to the mortals below.
Worried and concern for the mortals, the Jade emperor summons the imperial archer, Hou Yi to help him solve the problem. Hou Yi then went to Earth and shot down nine of the Jade Emperor’s sons. The emperor had thought that Hou Yi would not harm any of his sons. Now that his sons are dead, the emperor was very furious. In anger, the emperor took away Hou Yi and his wife’s immortality and condemn them to live on Earth forever.
Chang*e and her jade bunny on the moon
Chang Er was grief stricken with her loss of immortality. Hou Yi could not bear to see his saddened wife, and so, he decided to steal the immortality pill from the heavenly medicine manufacturer so that both of their immortality could be restored. He manage to steal the pill from heaven, and brought it to Chang Er. He told her that they only need to take half of the pills to regain immortality.
In the meantime, the Jade Emperor found out about the stolen immortality pill, and command an imperial guard to retrieve the pills and catch both Hou Yi and Chang Er so that he could punish them for their misdeed.
And so, the imperial guard went down to earth in pursuit of the couple and the pill of immortality. But the guard himself was tempted by the idea of immortality. So he waited until Hou Yi is not at home, and attacked Chang Er who is defenseless at home. He demanded for the pill but Chang Er refused to hand it to him. Hou Yi, who seems to forget his arrows went back home to get it and discovered that his wife is in danger. He fought the imperial guard courageously.
Unfortunately, Hou Yi is an archer, not a fighter. He was stabbed right in his heart in front of Chang Er. Chang Er was grief stricken, and wishes to die with her husband too. However, Hou Yi’s dying wish was for Chang Er to regain her immortality and live happily for all eternity.
So, Chang Er took out the pill from her sleeves and swallowed the whole pill so that the guard would not be able to get it and obtain immortality. Right after swallowing the pill, Chang Er started to float towards the sky, and after flying for some time, she landed on the moon. She cried and grieve for her husband’s death.
Her cries was heard by a group of Jade Bunnies that lives on the moon. They went to her and listened to her story. These Jade Bunnies were captivated by Chang Er’s beauty and kindness towards them, so they built a palace for her to stay, knowing that she could never return to Heaven or Earth. They hailed her as their goddess and pledge allegiance to her. These bunnies can be seen pounding on the face of the moon on some cooking utensil.
It is believed that these Jade Bunnies are trying to make resurrection pills so that they could revive their Goddess’s love. It’s said that the resurrection pills is shaped like a mooncake. But it’s not dictate anywhere on whether Hou Yi was revived or not, but in many folklore, it’s told that Chang Er would bestow blessing of love and happiness to lovers who pray hard and sincere enough to the moon during mid-autumn.
According to my husband, however, there’s only one Jade Bunny on the moon, and it’s actually the reincarnation of Chang Er’s husband. He told me that the Jade Empress took pity on the couple, and so reincarnate Hou Yi as a Jade Bunny so that Chang Er will not be lonely on the moon. That explains why Chang Er can always be seen with a bunny everywhere she goes on the moon.