Human lunar exploration can be broadly divided into three stages, namely "exploration", "landing" and "residence". "Exploration" means examination by unmanned lunar probes. "Landing" means human landing on the Moon. "Residence" means that human will be living and working on the Moon in long term.
China launched the lunar exploration project named "Chang’e Programme" in 2004. The programme aims at understanding the Moon in a scientific approach in order to explore lunar resources and develop space technology, which in turn fosters the growth of technology-based industries.
The Chang’e Programme is all about “exploration” and consists of three phases of "orbiting", "landing" and "returning". China completed the "orbiting" phase by launching Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 lunar probes in 2007 and 2010 respectively. This phase also gathered additional data for lunar landing. In December 2013, the goal of China’s first soft landing on the lunar surface and ground exploration on the Moon was achieved by the lander and Yutu Lunar Rover of Chang’e-3. The achievements of Chang’e-3 mission also supports the third phase of lunar exploration "returning". With advances in technology, Chang’e mission will collect lunar soil samples back to the Earth, unveiling the unknown mysteries of the Moon.