Russia's Roscosmos head congratulates Chinese colleagues on successful landing of Chang'e-4

08 January, 2019, 06:19 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • China's Yutu 2 rover moving across the far side of the moon

Yutu-2 will enter a "napping" mode at an appropriate time and is expected to resume moving next Thursday.

The first Chang'e spacecraft was launched in 2007 to verify China's lunar probe technology, obtain lunar images and perform scientific surveys.

"It's a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation", Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, told state broadcaster CCTV, in a twist of US astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous comment when he became the first human to walk on the moon in 1969.

A robotic Chinese spacecraft named Chang'e 4 braked out of lunar orbit and slowed to a controlled touchdown on the far side of the moon Thursday, a first in the history of space exploration.

Lunar rover Yutu-2 has been driving on the far side of the moon after separating from the lander and scientific devices on both the lander and rover are now gathering data, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said late Friday. With the help of ground-penetrating radar, it will allow scientists to study the moon's mysterious "dark side", how its surface interacts with solar wind, and perhaps the process behind the formation of lunar water. A photo posted online by China's space agency showed tracks left by the rover as it headed away from the spacecraft.


As the New York Times points out, the crater where Chinese probe landed is the oldest and deepest on the moon. It also reflects China's peaceful use of space. "The U.S. sees pretty much everything China does in space - including things the U.S. has done in space - as threatening". China last year launched more rockets into space than any other nation and plans another moon landing, the Chang-e 5, later this year.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon. The probe has already sent back its first pictures from the surface, which have been shared by the Chinese state media. As the BBC notes, USA counter-espionage legislation restricts NASA from working bilaterally with Chinese nationals without express permission from Congress.

Notably space is yet another sphere where earth's two technological powerhouses compete but don't collaborate-and seem nearly to inhabit different universes.

More China news below.

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