China begins first surface exploration of moon’s far side

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The six-wheeled rover, known as Yutu 2, isn't pausing to catch its breath, as a newly released photo shows.

"Congratulations to China's Chang'e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter.

While China is the first to land a spacecraft on the far side, there have been plenty of detailed photographs taken by orbiting spacecraft.

"The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth", mission spokesman Yu Guobin said, according to Xinhua.

China's Chang'e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon Thursday, becoming the first spacecraft soft-landing on the moon's uncharted side never visible from Earth.

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The landing was announced by state broadcaster China Central Television at the top of its noon news broadcast.

More than 2,000 high-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party have signed a petition this week asking explanations from the American government concerning the American Moon landings after doubts arose that the Apollo Moon landings ever happened.

China is only the third country, alongside the US and Russian Federation, to send its own astronauts into space aboard its own rockets, and only the USA and China have the fiscal and technical wherewithal to mount significant long-term programs for exploring space.

In May, a relay satellite "Queqiao", or "Magpie Bridge", named after an ancient Chinese folk tale, was launched to provide communications support between Chang'e 4 and Earth.

Lunar exploration chief Wu Weiren echoed Neil Armstrong's famous quote, telling state media the event marked a "huge stride" for China. With Chang'e 4 mission, China becomes the first country to ever successfully reach the far side of the moon. The far side can't be seen from Earth and is popularly called the "dark side" because it is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight. It has a maximum speed of 200 metres (220 yards) per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20 centimetres (8 inches) tall.

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