China prepares mission to land spacecraft on the opposite side of the moon



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China was preparing to launch an innovative mission early Saturday to land a spacecraft on the more unexplored side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and the United States.

With its Chang & # 39; and 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to successfully land. The opposite side of the moon is also known as the dark side, because it faces away from Earth and remains relatively unknown, with a different composition from the locations on the nearest side, where previous missions landed.

If successful, the mission scheduled to take off aboard a Long March 3B rocket will take the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.

China got its Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit." Rover on the moon five years ago and plans to ship its Chang & 5 39 and 5 probe for next year and have it back to Earth with samples – the first time this will be done since 1976. A manned lunar mission is also being analyzed .

Chang and 4 is also a combination of lander-rover and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after reaching the Von Karman crater of the South Pole-Aitken basin after a 27-day journey.

He will also conduct radio astronomical studies which, because the distant side always facing away from Earth, will be "free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, man-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise," space industry expert Leonard David wrote. site Space.com.

It can also carry plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Chang is the moon goddess in Chinese mythology.

China held its first manned space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country after Russia and the US to do so. It has put a pair of space stations into orbit, one of which is still operating as a precursor to a station of more than 60 tons that is due to come on stream in 2022. The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.

To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang & # 39; and 4 mission, China launched in May a retransmission satellite called Queqiao, or "Magpie Bridge," after an ancient Chinese folk tale.

China's space program has benefited from cooperation with Russia and European countries, although it has been excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to US legislation prohibiting such cooperation amid concerns about its strong military connections. His program also suffered a rare setback last year with the upcoming launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

China's latest mission closely tracks the landing of NASA's InSight spacecraft on Mars on Monday, at a location less than 640 kilometers from the American rover Curiosity, the only other robot operating on Mars.

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