China launches pioneering mission to make side of moon - ITV News

China has launched a groundbreaking mission to land to spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the EU and the US.

A Long March 3B rocket carrying a probe blasted off at 2.23am local time from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province in south-western China, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

With its Chang'e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to make a soft landing, which is a landing of a spacecraft in which no serious damage is incurred.

The moon's far side is also known as the dark side.

It has a different composition of sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.

If successful, the mission would be the Chinese program for the most important areas of lunar exploration.

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A crewed lunar mission is also under consideration.

Chang'e 4 is also a lander-rover combination and will be the first to arrive at the South Pole-Aitken basin's Von Karman crater following a 27-day journey.

It will also perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side of the earth is coming from the planet, ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise ", space industry expert Leonard David wrote on the website Space.com.

It can also carry seeds and silkworm eggs, according to Xinhua.

Chang'e is the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it only the third country after Russia and the US to do so.

It is put into two orbit stations, as well as 60-ton stations that come online as in 2022.

The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.

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

China's space program, although it was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to the US legislation barring such co-operation amid concerns over its strong military connections.

Its program also suffered a rare setback with the long March 5 rocket.

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