After weeks of orbiting the Moon, China’s Chang’e 4 lander has successfully touched down on the lunar surface. The mission is the first in history to explore the far side of the Moon.
According to the China National Space Administration, the Chang’e 4 lander touched down in the Von Kármán crater on the far side of the Moon at 02:26 UTC this morning. Following the landing, Chang’e-4 chief engineer, Xie Jianfeng confirmed that the operation had been completed without incident. “According to all the data sent back, the whole landing process was normal and the probe stood straight and steadily after landing. That is what we had anticipated,” said Jianfeng.
NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine joined many around the world in congratulating China on the momentous achievement. “Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment,” tweeted Bridenstine.
The Chang’e 4 lander launched aboard an upgraded Long March 3B from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on December 7, 2018. On December 12, the lander entered into an orbit around the Moon ahead of this morning’s powered descent.
The next major milestone for the Chang’e mission will see controllers with the Beijing Aerospace Control Center deploy the Chang’e 4 rover to the lunar surface. Deployment is currently scheduled for later this afternoon.