Chang'e-3 probe entered the lunar orbit after about 112 hours on a Earth-Moon transfer orbit, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) said.
    
The rover - known as Yutu, or Jade Rabbit - entered the orbit after 361 seconds of precise braking by the variable thrust engine, following orders by engineers with BACC.
    
The center later verified that Chang'e-3 had entered the 100 km-high lunar circular orbit. The braking was important otherwise Chang'e-3 would have escaped from the Moon, or crashed into it, the BACC said.
    
The Chang'e-3 mission - named for the goddess of the Moon in Chinese mythology, with the rover vehicle named after her pet -  is expected to touch down on the Moon in mid-December to explore its surface and search for natural resources.
    
The probe was launched on Monday from southwest China's Xichang Satellite Center. The Chang'e-3 will make China the third country to land a rover on the Moon, following the US and the former Soviet Union decades ago.
    
It is first time China is attempting soft landing on a celestial body and also the first time any lunar soft landing is being carried out since 1976, when other countries suspended exploration, Li Benzheng, deputy commander in chief of the lunar exploration programme, had said.
    
China aims to establish a permanent space station by 2020 and eventually send a human to the moon.

(Agencies)

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