Image: Chang'e 1
China's Chang'e 1 lunar orbiter, shown in this artist's conception, crashed into the moon Sunday to end a misson that lasted more than 16 months, state media reported.
updated 3/1/2009 5:41:19 PM ET 2009-03-01T22:41:19

China's lunar probe crashed into the moon Sunday in a controlled collision at the end of a 16-month mission, state media reported.

Xinhua News Agency cited sources at the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense as saying the Chang'e 1 lunar satellite hit the moon at 4:13 p.m. local time on Sunday.

The satellite was under remote control by two observation and control stations in east China's Qingdao and Kashgar, a small city in northwest China, Xinhua said.

China launched the probe in late October 2007 to have it survey the entire surface of the moon. Slung into space by a Long March 3A rocket, the satellite surveyed the moon's surface using stereo radar and other tools. The mission's scientific tasks were completed in October, China Daily said.

The mission was aimed at testing technologies for later stages of China's moon program, including the planned launch of a lunar rover in 2010, sources told China Daily. The sources were quoted as saying that yet another rover would be sent to the moon in 2017 to return samples to Earth, and that a manned lunar landing could take place by 2020.

China staged its first manned mission in 2003, becoming only the third country after Russia and the United States to launch a person into space. Last year, it claimed a new landmark with its first spacewalk.

This report was supplemented by

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