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China Successfully Carries Out Act That Hasn't Happened in Nearly Four Decades

This Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, shows a picture of the moon surface taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 on the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. China on Saturday successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Jianmin)

BEIJING (AP) — State media say China has safely carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades.

State television showed pictures of the moon's surface as the Chang'e 3 lander touched down Saturday evening.

This Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, shows a picture of the moon surface taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 on the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Jianmin)

The lander carries a moon rover called "Jade Rabbit" that will separate from the lander and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

This Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, shows a picture of the moon surface taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 on the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Jianmin)

China is the third country to carry out a lunar soft landing after the United States and the former Soviet Union. The last one was in 1976.

China's ambitious space program is an enormous source of pride for the country. China plans to eventually land people on the moon.

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