Chinese spacecraft makes first landing on moon's far side

A Long March-3B rocket carrying Chang'e 4 lunar probe takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province China

In this photo provided on January 3, 2019, by the China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, an image taken by China's Chang'e-4 probe after its landing.

Previous photos shared by China's National Space Administration show the first-ever close-ups of the far side of the moon's cratered surface.

Chinese state television said the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the "soft landing" at 0226 GMT and transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the dark side of the moon.

The mission is part of China's ambitious push to explore the Moon's resources and potential as a space base. China also wants to strengthen its position as a regional and worldwide power.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration said according to state news agency Xinhua.

Hou Xiyun is a professor at Nanjing University's school of astronomy and space science. "There's no doubt that our nation will go farther and farther".

The probe was launched from a ground-level centre in southwestern China last month, and is the second Chinese-created probe to touch down on the lunar surface, following the successful launch of the Yutu rover mission in 2013.

China also shared some images of what the far side of the moon looks like taken by the Chang'e-4 probe. China prepared for this mission by deploying the Queqiao satellite in May 2018. As a result, the moon always presents the same "near" face towards Earth, no matter from what vantage on Earth the moon is observed.

The probe landed at 10:26am Beijing time and relayed a photo of the "dark side" of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, which will relay communications between controllers on Earth and the far side of the moon. The other side, most of which can not be seen from the Earth, is called the far side or dark side because most of it is uncharted.

Yung Kai-leung with a model of the Chang'e-4's camera system. The rover is equipped with a low-frequency radio spectrometer to help scientists understand "how the earliest stars were ignited and how our cosmos emerged from darkness after the Big Bang", according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

"There are rocks all over the far side that are over 4 billion years old", she said.

China's lunar exploration is an indication of its desire to become a space power.

"This time the Chang'e-4 mission have a very good start". The country has hurried to catch up with the achievements of the United States and Russian Federation as its economy and technology become more advanced.

China has two space stations in orbit and plans to launch a Mars exploration vehicle in the mid-2020s.