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China launches pioneering mission to far side of moon

08 December 2018

China launched its Chang'e 4 lander and rover today (December 8, 2:22 a.m. local time) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, as part of a mission that hopes to land on the far side of the Moon.

"Chang´e-4 is humanity´s first probe to land on and explore the far side of the moon", said the mission´s chief commander He Rongwei of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main state-owned space contractor. The other face, most of which can not be seen from earth, is called the far side or dark side, not because it's dark, but because most of it remains unknown.

Futurism has previously reported on the Chang'e 4 lunar lander, which is scheduled to land near the Moon's southern pole in a giant plain called the Von Kármán crater.

On board is a lander which, if all goes smoothly, will soon make history by touching down on the far side of the Moon. It's mission will be to explore the composition of the lunar surface.

Chang'e 4 follows a series of Chinese lunar missions, including two orbiters and a lander.

To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang'e 4 mission, China in May launched a relay satellite named Queqiao, or "Magpie Bridge, " after an ancient Chinese folk tale.

Ten experiments - six from China and four from overseas - include planting potatoes and other seeds.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the Chang'e 4 lunar probe launches from the the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

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The experiments also involve planting potato and other seeds, according to Chinese media reports.

The Chang´e 4 mission is a step in that direction, significant for the engineering expertise needed to explore and settle the moon, McDowell said.

"Chang'e" takes its name from the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.

An artist's conception shows the Chang'e-4 rover on the lunar surface. During the lunar day, also lasting 14 earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

Instruments must withstand those fluctuations and generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night. China has promoted worldwide cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads in the Chang'e-4 mission developed by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

However, while China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the U.S. Defense Department has accused it of pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis.

China has promoted worldwide cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads of the Chang'e-4 mission developed by scientists from Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

China launches pioneering mission to far side of moon