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For the first time in the history of mankind, a man-made spacecraft has successfully landed on the surface of the far side of the moon.
Launched on December 8, 2018, China and their Chang’e 4 mission has made history by becoming the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon.
The Chang’e 4 mission is composed of a lander, and a rover, which are monitored by satellites acting as an intermediary between the spacecraft on the moon’s far side and Earth.
12 dramatic minutes
The landing on the far side of the moon was a dramatic moment say, experts, where mission specialists lived through 12 dramatic minutes as they observed their spacecraft make history, touching down on the moon.
Unlike China’s Chang’e 3 mission, which touched down on the Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, on the moon’s near side, an area relatively flat, the Chang’e 4 mission touched down on an area covered with geological features as rugged as the high mountains.
The lander touched down on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin.
“It was a great challenge with the short time, high difficulty and risks,” Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program explained to Xinhua.
Scientists explained that unlike the parabolic curve of Chang’e-3’s descent trajectory, Chang’e-4 made an almost vertical landing, and the entire process was automatic, meaning that ground control did not intervene in the process.
“We chose a vertical descent strategy to avoid the influence of the mountains on the flight track,” explained Zhang He, the executive director of the Chang’e-4 probe project.
When the lander had descended to an altitude of around 2,000 meters above the lunar surface, the spacecraft’s cameras snapped images of the moon’s surface in order to identify potential obstacles.