PHOTO FILE: The wax crescent is seen in the center of Warsaw on April 22, 2015. REUTERS / Kacper Pempel
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A Chinese space probe moved into a landing position on the dark side of the moon for the first time, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, a mission that was seen as an important step as the country tried to push forward its space program.
The investigation, Chang 'e-4, entered an orbit planned on Sunday "to prepare for the first soft landing on the far side of the moon," the agency said, citing the China National Space Administration. It is not stated when the landing will occur.
The moon is locked tidal to Earth, rotating at the same speed as orbiting our planet, so the far side – or "dark side" – is never seen from Earth. The spacecraft had seen the far side of the moon, but no one had landed on it.
China launched a Chang probe e-4 earlier this month, which was carried by a Long March-3B rocket. This includes landers and explorers to explore the surface of the moon.
Xinhua said that the investigation had entered the elliptical orbit at 8:55 a.m. Beijing time, which took it at its closest point only 15 kilometers away from the surface of the moon. Chang & # 39; e-4 first enters lunar orbit on December 12.
Chang-4's tasks include astronomical observations, surveying moon fields, mineral form and composition, and measuring neutron and neutral atom radiation to study the environment on the far side of the moon.
China aims to catch up with Russia and the United States to become the main space force by 2030. China plans to launch the construction of its own manned space station next year.
However, while China insists its ambition is purely peaceful, the US Department of Defense accuses it of carrying out activities aimed at preventing other countries from using space-based assets during the crisis.
The space control center will choose the "right time" to land the vehicle on the far side of the moon, Xinhua reported. The offspring is assisted by satellite relays, Queqiao, or the Magpie Bridge.
Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Christopher Cushing