China’s Change’4 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the surface of the moon in a historic landing that saw the Asian superpower become the first country int he history to perform a soft landing on the lunar surface successfully.
According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), their lunar rover has sent back the first close-up image of the previously unexplored side of the moon.
#BREAKING: China’s Chang’e-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
“There’s a lot of geopolitics or astropolitics about this; it’s not just a scientific mission, this is all about China’s rise as a superpower. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for the space program in China. There’s a lot of nationalism in China, they see China’s role in space as a key part of their rise,” explained Malcolm Davis, senior analyst with Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
“It is highly likely that with the success of Chang’e — and the concurrent success of the human spaceflight Shenzhou program — the two programs will eventually be combined toward a Chinese human spaceflight program to the Moon. Odds of the next voice transmission from the Moon being in Mandarin are high,” said US Naval War College professor, Joan Johnson-Freese, in an interview with Gizmodo.
As explained by the Xinhua News Agency (a state media network), the Agency’s Chang’e 4 probe launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on a Long March-3B carrier rocket on Dec. 8, 2018.
It has orbited the Moon since Dec. 12.
Now, it has subequally delivered both a lander and a rover, while its Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) relay satellite “is operating in the halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system,” Xinhua explained.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) January 3, 2019