China says it will launch its next lunar explorer in the first half of this year

BEIJING (AP) — China’s space agency said Wednesday that its latest lunar explorer had arrived at the launch site in preparation for a mission to the moon in the first half of this year.

State broadcaster CCTV posted photos on its website of the unit under wraps as it was unloaded from a large cargo airplane earlier this week and then transported by flatbed truck to the Wenchang launch site on southern China’s Hainan island.

The announcement came a day after a U.S. company abandoned a lunar landing planned for Feb. 23 because of a fuel leak that started soon after takeoff on Monday.

China and the U.S. are both pursuing plans to land astronauts on the moon in what has become a growing rivalry in space. The U.S. plans to do so in 2026, and China’s target date is before 2030.

The China
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