A chief designer of China's lunar exploration program has said the preparation for the launch of moon probe Chang'e-5 is well on track.

The launch is planned for 2017 from southern Hainan Province.

The probe is expected to bring back moon rock samples to Earth.

The chief designer, Wu Weiren, says a series of tests are being carried out.

"At present, the program of bringing samples from the moon is progressing well. The preparation work consists of three major parts. One is the construction of the launching site in Hainan which is proceeding well. The second is the development and testing of the large carrier rocket Long March-5. And the third is the development of the Chang'e-5 lunar probe."

Wu says testing of the separation of the Chang'e-5 probe and the carrier rocket has been completed and a number of ground tests are to be carried out to examine the compatibility between the rocket and the launching base as well as between the rocket and the probe.

China's lunar exploration program covers three stages. It completed the second phase after the Chang'e-3 probe soft-landed on the Moon on Dec. 14, 2013, with the country's first moon rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, aboard.

Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions were in 2007 and 2010.

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