China successfully landed a probe on the far side of the moon, in the latest milestone for the country’s ambitious space program.
The Chang’e-4 touched down in the Von Kármán crater Thursday morning Beijing time, China’s state news agencies reported. Having landed intact, it will deploy a rover to gather samples that could provide insights into the moon’s internal composition.
More than just a technological achievement, the mission’s success is a publicity coup for President Xi Jinping, who has personally endorsed China’s space efforts, said Dean Cheng, an expert on China’s space capabilities at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. “This is huge—a major first,” said Mr. Cheng. “For Xi Jinping and his great Chinese revival, this is a wonderful example.”
Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment! pic.twitter.com/JfcBVsjRC8
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) January 3, 2019
The landing makes China the first country to deploy a probe on the far side of the moon. To help achieve the feat, a communications-relay satellite called Magpie Bridge was positioned 50,000 miles beyond the moon last June to bounce transmissions between the Chang’e-4 and terrestrial ground stations.
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