China’s Chang’e 6 landed on the far side of the moon amid the space race with the US

On Sunday, China’s space agency said it had touched down on the far side of the moon, marking its second trip to the lunar region where no other country has landed, amid growing international competition in space exploration. If successful, it would be the first mission in history to retrieve samples from the far side of the Moon.

China’s National Space Administration sent the Chang’e 6 lunar probe to collect rock and other material near and around the impact crater, known as the Apollo Basin, part of the moon’s large South Pole-Aitken Basin, the country’s official said. Xinhua News Agency.

Chang’e 6 launched on May 3 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern island of Hainan and landed at 6:23 a.m. local time. In Chinese mythology, Changge is the goddess of the moon.

China, the U.S., Japan, India and Russia have invested heavily in space exploration in recent years — gathering in a field historically heralded as a symbol of national power and progress.

China and the United States, in particular, have a growing rivalry over scientific frontiers in space; Both countries are gunning for the honor of sending humans to the moon for the second time in history, with the US planning to do so by 2026 and China by 2030. (USA It was the first country (to land men on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.)

The far side of the Moon – also known as the dark side of the Moon – is the lunar hemisphere that always faces away from Earth. The term “darkness” does not refer to a lack of light, but rather to the fact that scientists know very little about this hemisphere.

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Astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission first saw the dark side in 1968, and the Chang’e 4 first landed there in January 2019. Radio waves are thickly blocked making communication over long distances very difficult. Solid rock, scientists must use a relay satellite to send signals to spacecraft and work under a narrow window for sample collection. The rough terrain also makes for a rough landing.

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Chang’e 6 is expected to take about 15 hours to collect the samples. According to Xinhua, to meet that short deadline, CNSA scientists developed a spacecraft to make autonomous judgments.

The mission aims to develop core prototype technology, as well as launch and ascent capabilities from the far side of the moon, Xinhua added.

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