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(CNN) -- China is launching its first lunar probe in early December, state-run Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday, just over a decade after the country first sent an astronaut into space.
The Chang'e-3 probe -- which will blast off from a Long March 3B rocket in Sichuan province located in southwest China -- is expected to land on the moon's surface in mid-December, a spokesman for the China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence told Xinhua.
The unmanned mission marks China's first attempt at a soft-landing on the lunar surface and the first soft-landing on the moon since the Soviet Luna 24 probe in 1976.
If the technology to put a man on the moon has been here since the 1960's, why waste time with a probe that moves at a slow pace, when you can put a man on the moon to do the job quicker
The mission will make up the second phase of China's lunar program which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth. Earlier missions included plotting a high-resolution, full-coverage lunar map.