China to land spacecraft on dark side of moon

(NY POST) – China launched a ground-breaking mission Saturday to land a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon.

The launch showed China’s growing ambitions as a space power to rival the US, Russia and the European Union.

A Long March 3B rocket carrying a lunar probe blasted off at 2:23 a.m. from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province in southwestern China, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

With its Chang’e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to make a soft landing, which is a touchdown of a spacecraft during which no serious damage is incurred.

The moon’s far side faces away from Earth and remains relatively unknown. It has a different composition than sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.

If successful, the mission would propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most sensational sides of selenology.