Chinese space probe lands on the far side of the Moon to take samples

Beijing – A Chinese space probe landed on the far side of the Moon on Sunday to take soil and rock samples that could provide information about the differences between this less explored region and the better-known side.

The lunar landing module landed at 6:23 a.m. Beijing time on a huge crater known as the Aitken Basin at the lunar south pole, the NASA said. National Space Administration of China.

The mission is the sixth of the Chang'e lunar exploration program, named after a Chinese lunar goddess. It is the second designed to bring samples, after Chang'e 5, which did so from the near side in 2020.

The lunar program is part of a growing rivalry with USA —which remains the leader in space exploration— and other countries, such as Japan and India. China has launched its own space station into orbit and regularly sends crews.

This emerging world power aims to put a person on the Moon by 2030, making it the second nation after the United States to do so. The United States plans to send astronauts to the Moon again — for the first time in more than 50 years — although NASA pushed back the planned date to 2026 earlier this year.

U.S. attempts to use private sector rockets to launch spacecraft have faced repeated delays. Last-minute computer problems prevented the planned launch of Boeing's first astronaut flight on Saturday.

Early Saturday, a Japanese billionaire canceled his plan to orbit the Moon due to uncertainty over SpaceX's development of a megarocket. The POT plans to use the rocket to send its astronauts to the Moon.

In China's current mission, the lander will use a mechanical arm and drill to collect up to 4.4 pounds of material from the surface and subsurface over about two days.

A device on top of the lander will transport the samples in a vacuum metal container to another lander orbiting the Moon. The container will be transferred to a reentry capsule that will return to Earth in the deserts of China's Inner Mongolia region around June 25.

Missions to the far side of the Moon are more difficult because they focus on an area that is not facing Earth, requiring a relay satellite to maintain communications. Additionally, the terrain is more rugged and there are fewer flat areas to land on.