China's robotic Chang'e 3 mission, reportedly slated to blast off toward the end of 2013, marks a big step forward in the nation's lunar exploration program. Chang'e 3 will become China's first craft to attempt a soft landing and rover deployment on the surface of the moon.
China’s multi-phase moon venture began with the orbiters Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2, which launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Now Chinese space program officials are ready to shift to phase two. [Gallery: Moon Photos by Chang'e 2 Probe]