China was on schedule to launch its first lunar probe Wednesday evening, a space official and state media said.
The scheduled launch of the Chang'e 1 orbiter comes just weeks after China's regional rival Japan put one in orbit over the moon in a big leap forward for Asia's undeclared space race.
India is likely to join the rivalry soon, with plans to send its own lunar probe into space in April.
China's launch was expected to take place at 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) Wednesday, said Li Guoping, spokesman for the China National Space Administration.
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