China makes historic landing on far side of the moon

By Thomson Reuters Jun 1, 2024 | 6:45 PM

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -China landed an uncrewed spacecraft on the far side of the moon on Sunday, a landmark mission which aims to retrieve rocks and soil from the lunar surface, China’s space agency said.

The landing elevates China’s space power status in a global rush to the moon, where countries, including the United States, are hoping to exploit lunar minerals to sustain long-term astronaut missions and moon bases.

The Chang’e-6 craft successfully landed in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the back of the moon at 6:23 a.m. Beijing time (2223 GMT), the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement on its website.

“The Chang’e-6 mission is the first human sampling and return mission from the far side of the moon. It involves many engineering innovations, high risks and great difficulty,” CNSA said.

“The payloads carried by the Chang’e-6 lander will work as planned and carry out scientific exploration missions,” CNSA said.

The successful mission is China’s second on the far side of the moon, a region no country has landed on before. The back of the moon perpetually faces away from the Earth, making communications challenging.

The Chang’e-6 probe landed nearly a month after it was launched by a Chinese Long March-5 rocket from Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern island of Hainan.

(Reporting by Joe BrockEditing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang)