China's rover blasts off to make history on moon's 'dark side'

China says it has launched first-ever lunar probe to land on far side of the moon

They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies - aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side - as well as mineral and radiation tests, Xinhua cited the China National Space Administration as saying.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe was launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch centre, and is expected to reach its destination sometime around the turn of the year.

With its Chang'e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to ever successfully undertake a landing on the far side of the Moon.

The Soviet Union was the first nation to shed light on the moon's dark side when it captured the first images of its surface in 1959, exposing a mountainous and craggy geography radically different from the more familiar half.

If successful, the mission would propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.

Futurism has previously reported on the Chang'e 4 lunar lander, which is scheduled to land near the Moon's southern pole in a giant plain called the Von Kármán crater.

The biggest challenge will be establishing communication with the far side of the moon, which is unreachable by direct signal and invisible from Earth, said professor Ouyang Ziyuan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the chief scientist of the China Lunar Exploration Plan.

It may also carry plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to Xinhua.

The Chang'e 4 mission is a step in that direction, significant for the engineering expertise needed to explore and settle the moon, McDowell said.

The mission also demonstrates China's growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russian Federation, the European Union and the U.S. The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth.

China's space program has benefited from cooperation with Russian Federation and European nations, although it was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to US legislation barring such cooperation amid concerns over its strong military connections.

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