China hopes to land its first probe on the moon at the end of this year, the next step in an ambitious space programme that includes eventually building a space station.
In 2007, China launched its first moon orbiter, the Chang'e One orbiter, which took images of the surface and analysed the distribution of elements.
That launch marked the first step in China's three-stage moon mission, to be followed by an unmanned moon mission and then the retrieval of lunar soil and stone samples around 2017.
The official state news agency Xinhua said that Chang'e Three was on track for a landing towards the end of the year.
"Chang'e Three has officially entered its launch implementation stage following its research and construction period," the government said.
"The mission will see a Chinese orbiter soft-land, or land on the moon after using a technique to slow its speed, on a celestial body for the first time," Xinhua added, although further details were not provided.
Chinese scientists have talked of the possibility of sending a man to the moon after 2020.
China successfully completed its latest manned space mission in June, when three astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory critical in Beijing's quest to build a working space station by 2020.
China is still far from catching up with the established space superpowers, the US and Russia, which decades ago learned the docking techniques China is only now mastering.
China insists its space programme is for peaceful purposes, but the US Defense Department has highlighted China's increasing space capabilities and said it is pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.