China's rover blasts off to make history on moon's 'dark side'

It's Official: A Lander Is Headed to The Far Side of The Moon

The most ambitious robotic moon probe ever by any space-faring country was launched by China on Saturday morning.

China was preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission early Saturday to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russian Federation, the European Union and U.S.

The carrier rocket "Changzheng-3B" was launched from the Baikonur Xichang in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

China has promoted worldwide cooperation in its lunar exploration program, with four scientific payloads of the Chang'e-4 mission developed by scientists from Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

It's also carrying a 3 kg (6.6 lb) container of seeds and silkworm larvae to study whether they can grow on the surface of the Moon - an experiment that could have long-term implications for a lunar colony.

Chang'e-4 will be the second Chinese probe to land on the moon.

It will also perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side always faces away from Earth, will be "free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise", space industry expert Leonard David wrote on the website Space.com. The earth's and moon's gravity balances the orbital motion of the satellite and makes it very fuel-efficient.

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The probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas.

After accomplishing its tasks, Chang'e-2 flew to the L2 point of the sun-earth system about 1.5 million km from earth to conduct scientific experiments.

After launching, the spacecraft will spend 27 days traveling to the moon.

Chang'e 4's rover has six wheels, two solar panels, a radar dish as well as multiple cameras, show pictures published by the China National Space Administration.

This mission is part of a larger program of China for the exploration of the moon.

Saturday's launch was the 294th mission of the Long March rocket series.

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