China is set to attempt an ambitious mission to land on the far side of the moon with the launch scheduled for early Saturday, informed sources said.
Prof. Ouyang Ziyuan, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and also the chief scientist of the China Lunar Exploration Plan, said this in Beijing on Friday.
If successful, the mission would mark the first time humans reach the far side of the moon, which is more rugged than the near side.
A Chang’e-4 probe is to launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in south-west China early Saturday.
Some experts are estimating the probe will take 14 days to reach its destination. Others say it could take as long as 27 days.
The biggest challenge will be establishing communication with the far side of the moon, which is unreachable by direct signal and invisible from Earth, said Ziyuan.
“We will be like deaf and blind,’’ he said.
China, in May, launched a satellite named Queqiao meant to relay information between Earth and the future probe.
Chang’e 4 is set to land near the moon’s South Pole, from where it can begin its exploration.
The probe is carrying seeds for an experiment in cultivating vegetables in a closed environment on the lunar surface.
China is running an ambitious space programme, which includes landing a rover on Mars by 2020, building its own space station by 2022 and sending an exploration mission to Jupiter by 2029. (dpa/NAN)