China’s Chang’e 4 Spacecraft Will Land on Dark Side of the Moon in the Next 60 Hours
China’s space agency said its control center in Beijing would choose a suitable time to try the landing, but the Smithsonian Institution, the American museums and research centers group, reported that the craft was expected to set down on the Von Kármán crater landing point between January 1 and 3.
The moon lander was launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southern China on December 8 on a Long March 3B rocket and entered lunar orbit four days later.
The far side of the moon faces away from Earth and it remains comparatively unknown. It has a different composition from sites on the near side where previous missions have landed.
China launched a relay satellite, Queqiao, or Magpie Bridge, between Earth and the moon. Operating about 400,000km (250,000 miles) from Earth, Queqiao will pass on signals to the lunar lander and rover of Chang’e 4.
Lunar Sample Return Next by 2020
China will launch a returnable spacecraft called Chang’e 5 by 2020. Chang’e 5 will include a lunar lander and a rover that could return to Earth after collecting samples and performing surveys on the planet’s satellite