China launched a first spacecraft on Saturday to explore the dark side of the moon, marking yet another milestone in its ambitious space program, Xinhua news agency reported.
Chang-e-4 probe is expected to make the first soft landing on the other side of the Moon, according to Xinhua. Previous spacecraft have seen the other side of the Moon, but none have landed on it.
The Moon is attached to Earth, spinning at the same speed as it orbits our planet, so the far side is never visible from Earth.
The advancement of China's space program has been a priority of its leaders, with President Xi Jinping urging China to establish itself as a space power.
At 2:23 a long March-3B rocket carrying the probe, including a probe and a jeep, sailed from the Xichang satellite launch center in southwestern China, Xinhua reported.
The tasks of the Chang & e4-4 probe include low frequency radio-astronomical observation, raising the ground and relief, detecting the mineral composition and measuring the neutron radiation and the neutral atoms to study the environment on the other side of the Moon, Xinhua. quoted the National Space Administration of China as saying.
China plans to reach Russia and the United States to become a major space power by 2030. It is planning to launch the construction of its own manned space station next year.
However, while China insists its ambitions are purely peaceful, the US Department of Defense has accused it of engaging in activities designed to prevent other nations from using space assets during a crisis.