Chinese spacecraft makes first landing on moon's far side

China claims to have landed spacecraft in unexplored side of Moon

Chang'e 4 spacecraft lands on far side of the Moon in world first for China

On Thursday morning, a Chinese probe called the Chang'e-4 touched down on the moon's far side, making China the first to do so.

Chang'e 4 touched down on the moon's far surface at 10.26 Beijing time (9.26pm EST) last night, state media reports.

Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the China Lunar Exploration Project, called the landing a trailblazing milestone.

A Chinese spacecraft on Thursday made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon in the latest achievement for the country's growing space program. The tidal lockstep means that humans can't see the far side of the moon without sending a spacecraft there, which first happened in October 1959, with the flight of the Soviet Union's Luna 3 probe.

The unmanned lunar missions are part of China's ambitions to join the United States and Russian Federation as a major space power.

Chang'e-3, consisting of China's first moon rover Yutu and a lander, was launched in 2013.

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The Chang'e-4 probe has already sent back its first pictures from the surface, which were shared by state media.

The mission is part of China's ambitious push to explore the Moon's resources and potential as a space base.

Months back, China launched relay satellites that help the lander and rover to remain in contact with its handlers on Earth despite not being in direct line-of-sight.

However, this only refers to the side of the moon being unseen on earth - it still receives sunlight.

The US is the only other country to have made successful moon landings in the past - including the most famous of all in 1969 when Neil Armstrong took his famous steps onto the moon's surface.

China's Chang'e-4 lunar mission, named after the mythical goddess of the Moon, includes three stages: orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.

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Chang'e 4 could also contribute to radio astronomy.

The images were sent via the relay satellite Queqiao, created to allow radio communication between the far side of the moon and Earth without it being blocked by the near hemisphere. While scarce on Earth, previous observations of the far side from crewed and person-free craft make it likely a large amount is present.

The images are highly significant as they provide documented footage of the Moon's so-called "dark side".

"The far side of the Moon is so meaningful".

Besides its civilian ambitions, China has tested anti-satellite missiles and the U.S. Congress has banned NASA from two-way cooperation with its Chinese counterpart over security concerns. "And we're gradually realizing it".

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