In a world first, China lands a spacecraft gently on the Moon’s far side

<em>A composite image of the Moon from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, 2009. </em>

This evening, China became the first nation to land a spacecraft gently on the far side of the Moon, according to China Global Television Network America. A Chinese robotic lander and rover, which launched from China in early December, descended into a crater on the side of the Moon that’s always facing away from Earth. The touchdown marks a significant technological feat for the country, and puts China in an elite category of spaceflight achievement all its own.

The landing is part of China’s Chang’e-4 mission — one of a series of planned missions to explore the lunar surface. Prior to this program, China sent a lander and a rover to the Moon, making it the third country to ever softly land on the lunar surface. That lander, part of the…

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