BEIJING -- A Chinese lunar rover landed on the dark side of the moon on Thursday, in a global first that boosts Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower.
The Chang'e-4 probe landed at 10:26 a.m. Beijing time and sent a photo of the far side of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, which will relay communications to controllers on Earth, state broadcaster CCTV said.
Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.
The Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission – named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology – launched last December from the southwestern Xichang launch center.
It is the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.
Unlike the near side of the moon that always faces the earth and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.
The Chang'e-4 probe is carrying 6 experiments from China and 4 from abroad, and includes low-frequency radio astronomical studies -- aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side.
The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration said according to state news agency Xinhua.