China launches mis­sion to far side of the moon

The Olympian - - News - BY CHRISTOPHER BODEEN As­so­ci­ated Press

China launched a ground­break­ing mis­sion Satur­day to land a space­craft on the largely un­ex­plored far side of the moon, demon­strat­ing its grow­ing am­bi­tions as a space power to ri­val Rus­sia, the Euro­pean Union and the U.S.

A Long March 3B rocket car­ry­ing a lu­nar probe blasted off at 2:23 a.m. from the Xichang Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in Sichuan Prov­ince in south­west­ern China, the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency said.

With its Chang’e 4 mis­sion, China hopes to be the first coun­try to make a soft land­ing, which is a land­ing of a space­craft dur­ing which no se­ri­ous dam­age is in­curred. The moon’s far side is also known as the dark side be­cause it faces away from Earth and re­mains com­par­a­tively un­known. It has a dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tion than sites on the near side, where pre­vi­ous mis­sions have landed.

If suc­cess­ful, the mis­sion would pro­pel the Chi­nese space pro­gram to a lead­ing po­si­tion in one of the most im­por­tant ar­eas of lu­nar ex­plo­ration.

China landed its Yutu, or “Jade Rab­bit.” rover on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang’e 5 probe there next year and have it re­turn to Earth with sam­ples – the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lu­nar mis­sion is also un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

TONY OVERMAN tover­[email protected]­

An ATF agent pho­to­graphs the burned-out Je­ho­vah’s Wit­ness King­dom Hall on Sixth Av­enue in Lacey on Fri­day.

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