The Beijing Aerospace Control Center reports that China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe successfully entered lunar orbit Friday at 5:53 pm Beijing time.

The Chang'e-3 probe, carrying with it the Yu Tu (Jade Rabbit) lunar rover, was launched from the Xichang Satellite Center at 1:30 am Monday morning, and was promptly inserted into the desired Earth-Moon transfer orbit, requiring only two minor course corrections on the way.

After four days and 16 hours in this transfer orbit, Chang'e-3's internal rocket engine was used to slow the spacecraft, allowing it to enter into a circular lunar orbit some 100 km (63 miles) above the Moon's surface. The probe's variable thrust engine, which can supply from 1,500 to 7,500 Newtons (150 to 765 kg) of thrust, fired for a total of 361 seconds to complete the lunar orbit insertion maneuver.

Over the next week, Chang'e-3 will remain in orbit preparing and testing systems for the landing in Sinus Iridum, presently scheduled for December 14. The level of live coverage that will be available for that event is as yet unclear, but we can hope.