A Chinese Long March 3B rocket launches China's first moon rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit) on the Chang'e 3 lunar landing mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 2, 2013 local time (Dec. 1 EST) in this still image from a CCTV broadcast.

A Chinese Long March 3B rocket launches China’s first moon rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit) on the Chang’e 3 lunar landing mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec.
Credit: CCTV

China’s first-ever mission to land a rover on the moon has begun its journey to the lunar frontier.

Riding atop a modified Long March 3B rocket, China’s Chang’e 3 moon lander and its rover Yutu  toward the moon at 1:30 a.m. Monday (Dec. 2) local time from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the country’s Sichuan province. It was 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT) on Dec. 1 at launch time.

If the probe continues on track, Chang’e 3 will land on the lunar surface by mid-December, becoming the first spacecraft to touch down on the moon in more than 37 years. The moon landing mission was the former Soviet Union’s robotic Luna 24 sample return mission in 1976. [Photos: China’s Chang’e 3 Mission Blasts Off]

via China’s 1st Moon Rover Launches On Lunar Journey | Space.com.