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China spacecraft lands on moon's far side

China spacecraft lands on moon's far side.jpg

Photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the Chang'e 4 lunar probe launches from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.(Jiang Hongjing/Xinhua via AP)

A Chinese spacecraft has made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, state media says.

The lunar explorer Chang'e 4 touched down at 10:26 am, China Central Television said in a brief announcement at the top of its noon news broadcast.

The far side of the moon faces away from Earth and is relatively unexplored. It is also known as the dark side of the moon.

The pioneering landing demonstrates China's growing ambitions as a space power.

In 2013, Chang-e 3 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976.

The mission of Chang'e 4, which is carrying a rover, includes carrying out low-frequency radio astronomical observations and probing the structure and mineral composition of the terrain.

The Long March 3B rocket carrying Chang-e 4 blasted off on December 8 from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southern China.

China plans to send its Chang-e 5 probe to the moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples - the first time that will have been done since 1976.

© AP 2019