A Chinese spacecraft on Thursday made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, state media said.
The lunar explorer Change 4 touched down at 10:26 a.m., China Central Television said in a brief announcement at the top of its noon news broadcast.
The far side of the moon faces away from Earth and is relatively unexplored. It is also known as the dark side of the moon.
The pioneering landing demonstrates Chinas growing ambitions as a space power. In 2013, Change 3 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon since the Soviet Unions Luna 24 in 1976.
#BREAKING: Chinas Change-4 probe successfully made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon on the South Pole-Aitken basin Thursday morning, a major milestone in space exploration. #ChangE4 pic.twitter.com/mt2YTWqlxs
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 3, 2019
The mission of Change 4, which is carrying a rover, includes carrying out low-frequency radio astronomical observations and probing the structure and mineral composition of the terrain.
The Long March 3B rocket carrying Change 4 blasted off on Dec. 8 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southern China.
In May, a relay satellite “Queqiao,” or “Magpie Bridge,” named after an ancient Chinese folk tale, was launched to provide communications support between Change 4 and Earth.
China plans to send its Change 5 probe to the moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples – the first time that will have been done since 1976.
Last Update: Thursday, 3 January 2019 KSA 08:15 – GMT 05:15