China's Moon Probe Mission

China's Moon Probe Mission
China's Moon Probe Mission

China launched a probe to collect samples from the far side of the Moon, a world first as Beijing pushes ahead with an ambitious programme that aims to send a crewed lunar mission by 2030.

A rocket carrying the Chang'e-6 lunar probe blasted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in southern China's Hainan province.

Heavy rain engulfed the site just minutes before the launch began with hundreds of onlookers gathered nearby to witness the latest leap for China's decades-long space programme.

Washington has warned that the programme is being used to mask military objectives and an effort to establish dominance in space.

The Chang'e-6 aims to collect around two kilograms of lunar samples from the far side of the Moon and bring them back to Earth for analysis.

State news agency hailed it as "the first endeavor of its kind in the history of human lunar exploration".

It is a technically complex 53-day mission that will also see it attempt an unprecedented launch from the side of the Moon that always faces away from Earth.

Ge Ping, vice director of China’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center said "The samples collected by Chang'e-6 will have a geological age of approximately 4 billion years."

"The current pre-selected landing area for Chang'e-7 and Chang'e-8 is near the Antarctic polar region of the moon," he added.

The probe is set to land in the immense South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system.

Once there, it will scoop up lunar soil and rocks, and carry out other experiments in the landing zone.

It must then lift off from the Moon's surface and retrace its steps back home.

Plans for China's "space dream" have been put into overdrive under President Xi Jinping.

China aims to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 and plans to build a base on the lunar surface.