WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- China made history when it was able to touch down a spacecraft on the Von Karman crater, the far side of the moon, on
- Launched early last month, The Chang’e 4 took three days to travel to the moon and spent the last few weeks in orbit preparing to land.
- The mission was a technical challenge “as there is no direct way to communicate with the spacecraft as it nears its landing target.”
The Chang’e 4 spacecraft has successfully landed on the far side of the moon on Thursday, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported. China made history by becoming the first nation to touch down on the moon’s surface not visible to people on Earth.
The spacecraft, which was launched early December, took three days to travel to the moon. Then, it spent the last few weeks of the month in orbit preparing to land on the Von Karman crater — a relatively flat spot on the moon’s far side.
“China’s Chang’e-4 probe softlands on Moon’s far side,” Xinhua tweeted on Thursday.
The state news agency, citing the China National Space Administration, said that the space probe, made up of a lander and a rover, “landed at the preselected landing area on the far side of the moon at 10:26 a.m. Beijing Time.”
Since there is no direct way to communicate with the Chang’e 4 spacecraft as it nears the far side, landing on it is considered a technical challenge. To deal with it, China placed a relay satellite in orbit around the moon in May.
The far side of the moon has been seen and mapped before, even by astronauts of the Apollo missions, according to CNBC. But Chang’e 4’s successful touch down marks the first time any spacecraft has landed on the moon’s far side.
Chang’e 4 represents one of the flagship parts of China’s heavy investment and growing capabilities in space through the China National Space Administration, CNBC reported.
Two years ago, China has successfully landed the Chang’e 3 on the moon, the first soft landing since 1976. The Chang’e 4 is similar in design to the Chang’e 3 spacecraft and its “Jade Rabbit” rover. The latest craft carries a bigger payload and more capabilities, aiming to study geological conditions on the far side of the moon.
China’s spacecraft was named after its Moon Goddess — Chang’e. According to the ancient tale, Chang’e took an elixir and flew to the heavens. She chose the moon as her final resting place.