China is set to launch its next mission to the moon; it sent the Chang’e 3 mission to the moon back in 2013. The next mission is Chang’e 4, and it is set to launch early Saturday morning. The goal of this mission is to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.
The moon’s far side is mostly unexplored as other moon missions have focused on the near side facing the Earth. The mission highlights China’s desire to take its place among the space powers like Russia, the European Union, and the US. If the Chang’e mission is successful China will become the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.
The mission will lift off atop a Long March 3B rocket. It has a lander/rover combination that aims to explore above and below the lunar surface. The landing site is the South Pole-Aitken basin Von Karman crater.
The trip to the moon will take 27 days after launch. China also intends to perform Radio-astronomical studies on the far side of the moon that will be free from interference from the Earth’s ionosphere, radio frequencies, and auroral radiation noise.
Reports indicate that the rover might also carry plant seeds and silkworm eggs. To get transmissions from the lander on the far side of the moon back to Earth, China launched a satellite in May called the Queqiao that will act as a relay.