China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing

China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing

China was preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission early Saturday to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russian Federation, the European Union and U.S.

A Long March-3B rocket, carrying the probe including a lander and a rover, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province at 2:23 a.m., opening a new chapter in lunar exploration.

If the mission succeeds, it will catapult China into the forefront of lunar exploration with a landing that no other nation has even dared to attempt. It also carries seeds as part of a "miniature biosphere" experiment to grow vegetables in the lunar soil.

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It is expected to soft land on the far side of the Moon in January, unveiling the mysterious dark side which is unknown. Here, the satellite will be able to constantly transmit communications between mission controllers on Earth and the lander-rover on the lunar surface.

Communication with the far side of the moon is hard as it is always facing away from the Earth. The craft also carry three cameras and a mini biosphere for a first-ever test of photosynthesis and respiration in the low-gravity lunar environment. The Chang'e 4 rover is 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and about 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide and tall, with two foldable solar panels and six wheels.

It is indicated that China has ambitious plans in space: by 2020, the country plans to send a moon Rover to build by 2022 own space station and send to 2029 research mission to Jupiter. It was then tasked to fly by and observe the Toutatis asteroid, about 7 million km from the earth, and continued its journey into deep space.

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Model of Chang'e moon lander.

"She's heading to a place that has a special importance for the study of the moon".

After launching, the spacecraft will spend 27 days traveling to the moon. Its program also suffered a rare setback a year ago with the dialed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

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