On July 20th 1969 the U.S. made history when the Apollo 11 made touchdown on the moon, officially winning the space race against the Soviet Union and opening a new door for science and space exploration; Now China has made a new revolutionary accomplishment, their spacecraft made it to the dark side of the moon.
This is the first time landing on the “dark side” of the moon has been attempted or achieved, and it means big things for the scientific community.
China had been able to keep the mission under wraps up until just recently when they officially announced the landing of the spacecraft and then released the first images captured by the 300 pound land rover, Chang’e 4. Why is all of this such a big deal though, the dark side is still just another side of the moon? Well, it was thought to be more or less impossible before as new satellites would be required in order to ensure the astronauts could be communicate, it would be difficult to do as well as expensive. However, China had the budget for the project and it paid off, as now the elusive dark side can be explored along with the interior structure with help of ground penetrating radar. There are expansive grounds to be explored on the far side, it has a thicker and older crust that is filled with craters different from the “maria”, seas created by lava flows, as seen on the near side of the moon.
Many have began questioning how this affects America as the leader in the space race, and it’s unsure of so far. The U.S. has been planning on leaving the collaborative effort of 15 nations, the International Space station, between years 2045 and 2025. The reasoning being its seen as unrealistic to plan for its purpose to become a “commercial entity”. China has ambitions to potentially beat the U.S., as they are expected send parts for a space station as well as astronauts for their own moon landing in as soon as 2020.
Chinese government however, does not disclose how much is spent on space programs, and the concern of reckless spending when its economy is struggling is a rising concern since the touchdown on January 3rd. While the rest of the earth found the touchdown to be monumental, Chinese citizens paid little attention to the accomplishment, stories on the landing didn’t even make top 3 on news channel or websites. Chinese officials have made statements about hopes to create a new way to provide resources by establishing a new lunar base.