BEIJING China aims to put an unmanned buggy on the moon by 2012, local media reported on Friday, laying the ground for its greater ambitions of putting a man on the moon.
In October 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, after the former Soviet Union and the United States. It sent two more astronauts on a five-day flight on its Shenzhou VI craft in October 2005.
China launched its third manned space mission in September, with live-to-air footage of its first space-walk captivating the nation.
Its first lunar probe, the Chang'e-1 satellite, named after a lonely goddess who lives with a rabbit on the moon and pines for her husband, finished its mission last month after orbiting the moon thousands of times.
"China will send a moon-lander and moon-buggy around 2012," the Beijing News said, citing state television.
Before the moon-lander, China will send Chang'e-2 satellite to fulfil another circumlunar mission, CCTV added.
China said its lunar mission would include three steps of "orbiting, landing and returning", but has not disclosed schedule of any manned moon mission so far.
(Reporting by Yu Le; Editing by Ian Ransom)