China launches rocket in attempt to land on far side of Moon for first time

China has launched a historic space mission to the dark side of the Moon.

On Friday, a rocket carrying the Chang’e-4 lunar lander took off from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Southern China, the New York Times reported.

The mission, if all goes as planned, would mark the first time a rover has landed on the far side of the Moon.

According to the Global Times, the launch, which took place around 2.23am local time in China, was successful.

Although there is no exact date planned for arrival, the rocket, carrying a lander and a lunar rover, is expected to reach its destination of Von Kármán crater in early January.

The crater, located on the side of the Moon facing away from Earth, is an area of interest within the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Upon its arrival, Chang’e-4 will use a variety of instruments including cameras, ground-penetrating radar and spectrometers to analyse and identify rocks and dirt in the area, according to the New York Times

More interestingly, seeds have also been sent as part of an experiment to see if it is possible for living things to grow on the Moon. 

To communicate with the rover once it reaches its destination, scientists will rely on the Queqiao satellite, which was launched in May of this year.

The mission, which would offer the first up-close view of the far side of the Moon, is part of China’s increasing investment in lunar exploration. 

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The rover’s design is based on the Chang’e-3 craft, which soft-landed on the Moon in 2013 – the first rover to do so since 1976. 

Chang’e-5 and 6 will be the next steps for China, with the goal of bringing back samples from the Moon. 

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