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Russia's Roscosmos head congratulates Chinese colleagues on successful landing of Chang'e-4

Russia's Roscosmos head congratulates Chinese colleagues on successful landing of Chang'e-4

China on Thursday landed its Chang'e 4 spacecraft on the moon's far side - also known, mistakenly, as the "dark side" - which no nation had done before.

Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - was the second Chinese probe to land on the moon following the Yutu rover mission in 2013. After receiving the order, Yutu-2, atop the spacecraft, extended its solar panel, stretched out its mast and started to drive slowly to the transfer mechanism, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

While the USA, Russia and China have all successfully landed spacecraft on the side of the moon that faces earth, China alone has just landed on the "far" or "dark" side.

Yutu 2 has already put a fair bit of space between itself and the lander, trundling over near the rim of a small crater on the floor of Von Kármán, which itself lies within an even larger impact feature - the 1,550-mile-wide (2,500 km) South Pole-Aitken Basin.

The new images show the craft's rover, called Yutu 2, beginning to move across the lunar surface. That side has been observed many times from lunar orbit, but never up close.

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"Although this was one small step for the rover, I think it is one big step for the Chinese people", he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, echoing the famous quote by U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969.

In Beijing, however, the successful departure of the rover was heralded as a giant leap for China's space programme, 50 years after Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the moon. It has a maximum speed of 0.1 miles per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or mount an obstacle up to 8 inches tall, the report said.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Weiren told the state broadcaster CCTV: "The separation of Chang'e 4's rover was smooth and ideal". "And it is what our generation and the next generation are supposed to do", said Chang'e-4 chief designer Dr. Wu Weiren, of China National Space Administration (CNSA).

China has chosen the name "Yutu-2", or Jade Rabbit-2, for its new moon rover, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced late Thursday.


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