Beijing – China sent Saturday a probe that will descend on the hidden side of the Moon, an almost unexplored area, on a historical mission that shows its great ambitions of space power that competes with Russia, the European Union and the United States.
The Long March 3B rocket carrying the lunar spacecraft took off at 2:23 am from the Xichang satellite launch center in Sichuan province, in southwest China, Xinhua state news agency said.
With the mission of its probe Chang & 4, China hopes to become the first country to achieve a descent without problems. The hidden face of the Moon is also known as the dark side because it is never oriented towards the Earth, and remains relatively unknown. It has a different composition than the regions of the visible side, where the previous missions have arrived.
If successful, the mission would bring the Chinese space program to a leadership position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.
China has landed its rolling probe Yutu (Jade Rabbit) five years ago, and plans to send its explorer Chang & # 39; and 5 the next year, which would be back with samples on Earth, the first event of his gender since 1976. China Also considers sending a manned mission to the Moon.
The probe Chang & # 39; and 4 will carry out explorations above and below the surface after reaching the Von Karman crater, in the basin of Aitken, at the lunar south pole, after a 27-day trip.
The spacecraft will also perform radio astronomy studies "free of interference from our planet's ionosphere, human radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise," Leonard David said on Space.com. .
The probe could also transport plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to Xinhua.
Chang is and is the moon goddess in Chinese mythology.
China sent its first manned mission to space in 2003, becoming the third country to do so, only after Russia and the United States. It has deployed a pair of orbital stations, one of which continues to function as a forerunner of one of over 60 tons that should start operating in 2022. A Mars probe is expected to ship in mid-2020.
To facilitate the connection between the controllers on Earth and the Chang & # 39; and 4 probe, China launched a relay satellite called the Queqiao (Bridge of Magpies), the name of an ancient Chinese folk tale.