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China Suffers Loss Of Moon Rover, Blow To Space Mission

February 13, 2014

While there have been some media reports that China’s lunar rover, Yutu – or Jade Rabbit–has been showing some signs of ability to communicate recently, the main story seems to remain that the rover is so disabled that it can not meet the needs for a major mission that is central to China’s space program.

The first moon rover sent out by China “could not be restored to full function”, the state-owned China News Service said in a brief report. The landmark mission had run into mechanical problems last month.

The Jade Rabbit, or Yutu in Chinese, was deployed on the moon’s surface on 15 December and was a huge source of pride in China, only the third country to complete a lunar rover mission after the US and former Soviet Union.

The landing was a key step forward in Beijing’s ambitious military-run space programme, which includes plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually person sent to the moon.

The silver rover had a mechanical control abnormality late January due to “the complicated lunar surface environment”, according to the official Xinhua news agency. It had been unable to function since then.

Condolences poured in on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, where internet users mourned the demise of the rover, China News Service said in its brief report entitled Loss of lunar rover.

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