from cnn.com: China launched ts first lunar probe early Monday, which, if all goes well, will make it only the third nation -- after the United States and the Soviet Union -- to soft-land on the moon. The launch of the unmanned probe took place at 1:30 a.m. Monday (12:30 p.m. ET Sunday), state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The Chang'e-3 blasted off from a Long March 3B rocket in Sichuan province located in southwest China and is expected to land on the moon's surface in mid-December. The new space effort comes just over a decade after the country first sent an astronaut into space.