China Firms Up Its Plan To Land on the Far Side of the Moon
Jan. 14, 2016 (EIRNS)—Chinese scientists reported today on the progress of the ambitious Chang’e-4 mission to land a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon. This has never been attempted before. As Liu Jizhong, from the Lunar Exploration Aerospace Engineering Center, explained on China Central Television’s China 24 program today, the mission will be launched by 2020.
Recall that the Chang’e-4 spacecraft was designed to be a back-up to the Chang’e-3 lunar rover mission, in case that mission were not successful. But it was deemed to be unnecessary to repeat that mission, so the Chang’e-4 craft has been repurposed to land on the far side of the Moon. Liu explained that this requires changes in the design of the spacecraft, requiring some extra time. (Chang’e-5 will go next, in 2017, to carry out a very challenging sample return mission).
Because the lander is facing away from Earth, sitting on the far side, communication cannot be direct. An orbiter will accompany the lander so that radio signals can go from the lander to an orbiter, to send data to Earth, and in the reverse for Chang’e-4 to receive commands from Earth.
Space scientist and CCTV commentator Yuguang Yang, said that China has just decided that the Chang’e-4 mission will be open to private investment by companies and individuals. He explained that the far side of the Moon is "very special," but that the landing is very difficult. Asked why there would be private investment in such a high-risk mission, when there is no return on the investment, Yang said that there will be applications from the new technology, as there are from navigational satellites.