By Ariel Scotti / January 3, 2019

China Lands First Spacecraft on “Dark” Side of the Moon

Only two other countries — the U.S. and the former Soviet Union — have landed on the near side.

China moon
The first image of the moon's far side taken by China's Chang'e-4 probe. (Xinhua/Xinhua via Getty Images)

China became the First nation in the world to send a spacecraft to the “dark” side of the moon on Thursday.

The China National Space Administration said the 10:26 a.m. touchdown of the Chang’e 4 craft has “opened up a new chapter in human lunar exploration,” the Associated Press reported.

It was previously one of only three other countries — along with the U.S. and the former Soviet Union — to land on the moon‘s Earth-facing side.

A photo sent back to Earth from the Chang’e 4 shows a small crater and a barren surface that appears illuminated by a light from the spacecraft.

In year-end wrap-ups last month, China’s state-run media hailed the launch of Chang’e 4 as one of the nation’s biggest achievements in 2018. The Thursday landing was announced prominently to the public by CCTV at the top of the noon news.

“On the whole, China’s space technology still lags behind the West, but with the landing on the far side of the moon, we have raced to the front,” said Hou Xiyun, a professor at Nanjing University’s school of astronomy and space science. “There’s no doubt that our nation will go farther and farther.”

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