Enlarge / China launches Chang'e-4 lunar probe in the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Dec. 8, 2018. (credit: Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing via Getty Images)
Late last week, China launched an ambitious mission that will send a lander and rover to the far side of the Moon. This Chang'e-4 spacecraft represents a significant achievement for China, as no other nation has ever softly landed a rover on the side of the Moon facing away from Earth.
If successful, this mission will carry out several lines of important scientific research on the still somewhat unknown far side of the Moon. However, the launch and landing of Chang'e-4 also helps to reveal the full scope of China's spaceflight ambitions and how the space program furthers the country's ambitious geopolitical goals. In this post, we try to unpack some of the implications.
On Saturday morning (local time in China) a Long March 3B rocket sent a 4-ton lander and a 140kg rover into space, and then this Chang'e-4 spacecraft performed a trans-lunar injection to send it flying toward the Moon. The spacecraft should reach lunar orbit on Wednesday.
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