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The Chang’e-4 lunar probe being launched from Xichang, China, December 2018

Chinese spacecraft lands on the dark side of the moon

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China just achieved something which no other country has ever done. China has landed a probe name Chang’e-4 on the side of the moon that is faced away from the earth.

The name Chang’e-4 is after the name of the moon goddess in Chinese mythology.

Earlier, in 2013 China joined the United States and the Soviet Union in making a soft landing on the moon. However, Chang’e-4 is the first to touch down on the other side of the moon.

Chang’e-4 spacecraft consists of two parts. The mainlander weighed about 1088 kilograms and the rover that landed on the moon weighed about 136 kilograms.

This spacecraft is broadly a clone of Chang’e-3 which landed on the moon in 2013. But it is bigger in size and is more effective.

The spacecraft took three days to travel to the moon. It is a challenge to be at that side of the moon where there is no direct contact or direct imagery from the earth. China overcame this communication obstacle by putting a relay satellite in orbit around the moon in May.

This mission will help understand the dark mysterious parts of the moon, its composition, and the structure of its rocks.

China’s space program has touched a new milestone with this achievement. China next plans to have its third fully operating space station by 2022. It plans to put astronauts in a lunar base by later in the decade.

It plans to send probes to Mars that could return Martian surface samples back to earth.

Although the moon is well explored, this landing is not mere propaganda. The location where the Chinese probe has landed is one of the deepest on the moon. It is suspected that the area is rich in minerals.

Exploiting the moon’s minerals resources maybe the next step in space development and this mission may give the Chinese an edge.

For various reasons, the Chinese government does not discuss its space program in detail. Reports about the Chang’e-4 have been fairly sparse.

China’s achievements in space have been a source of great pride in the nation. The ruling communist party has carefully managed it to project its strong leadership.

In 2018, China launched 38 rockets into space. This is more than any other country. Clearly, this is an area of technology that China plans to dominate.

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