China ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ Mission: Launch Expected In December
Chinese National Space Administration is expected to launch its Chang'e 4 mission to the "far side of the moon" around Dec. 7 to 8, a document from the NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive revealed.
The Chang'e 4 lander is scheduled for launch from Xichang, China, and its tentative landing site is in Von Karman crater in the northwestern South Pole - Aitken Base.
Von Karman is the oldest impact crater in the entire solar system, hence, being popularly known as "the dark side of the moon." Aside from its history and a challenging position, Von Karman has piqued the interest of the science community because of the probability that the region may contain water.
NSSDC said the launch date given for China's mission to the far side of the moon was only an estimate based on unofficial information. The agency has also estimated the time of 3:30 am, local Beijing time, as the exact schedule of launching.
China's space program has rapidly caught up with other nations that have pioneered missions in the past. The Asian country's achievement in the space may be demonstrated with the amount of investment its government has been allotting its space missions. China is currently spending $4.9 billion yearly for its science projects, according to Forbes. In comparison, Russia, the country which placed the first unmanned mission on the moon, spends $3.2 billion yearly. NASA, the largest space agency, spends about $35.9 billion annually.
The European Space Agency, spending about $5.7 billion yearly, has been vocal in the past that it wants to partner with China with space exploration missions. In 2017, ESA and CNSA jointly said they hope to work together to establish a "Moon Village" by the 2020s. The planned "village" will be an important hub for lunar mining, space tourism, and probably the launching point of a future joint mission to Mars.
In August, a Pentagon report projected that China could launch, assemble in-orbit, and operate a crewed Chinese space station before 2025. The report highlighted China's rapid technological advances in its space programs, particularly the country's progress in space lift, human spaceflight, and lunar exploration programs. The report also predicted that the Asian powerhouse would soon launch commercial space travels that will be opened to foreign customers.
After the Chang'e 4 mission, China is expected to launch the Chang'e 5 in 2019. The mission is aimed at bringing lunas samples back from its trip to the moon.
China began its lunar exploration program in 2004 and has since launched unmanned orbiting probes and one lunar lander. The Chang'e 3 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon since Russia in 1976.