China's Chang'e-4 spacecraft lands on far side of the moon

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At 9:26 p.m. EST on January 2, 2019 (2:26 a.m. GMT, 10:26 a.m. Beijing Time on January 3), China National Space Administration's Chang'e-4 lunar probe touched down on the far side of the Moon, becoming the first spacecraft to successfully soft-land on the Moon's side never visible from Earth.

The head of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, Thursday congratulated the Chinese colleagues on the successful landing of the Chang'e-4 probe.

Chang'e 4 is the first craft to make a soft landing on the moon's far side, which faces away from Earth.

"We are pleased that the power equipment of the Chang'e-4 mission is supplied by radioisotope sources of electricity produced in Russian Federation", he said.

"As long as we keep it clean of radio interference, the far side of the moon is very good for radio astronomy", he said.

The transfer mechanism unlocked as planned, with one side reaching the Moon's surface, allowing the rover to descend onto the surface from the slope.

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Yutu-2, atop the probe, extended its solar panel, stretched out its mast and started to slowly fly to the lunar surface Thursday night.

A Chinese lunar rover has driven on the far side of the moon, the national space agency announced on Friday, hailing the development as a "big step for the Chinese people".

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the moon's mysterious and heavily cratered far side.

To bridge communications from the normally hidden hemisphere of the Moon, China launched a relay satellite, Queqiao, in May of 2018 in to an orbit beyond the lunar farside. "The U.S. sees pretty much everything China does in space - including things the U.S. has done in space - as threatening". The other side, most of which can not be seen from Earth, is called the far side, or dark side, because most of it is uncharted.

The Yutu-2 rover has six wheels that all have power, so it can continue to operate even if one wheel fails. The vehicle can slant up to 20 degrees and overcome obstacles up to 20 centimeters in size.