Executive Intelligence Review


China Will Launch Chang’e-4 to the Far Side of the Moon on Dec. 7

Dec. 6, 2018 (EIRNS)—Humanity’s first spacecraft to land on the non-Earth-facing, or far side of the Moon will be launched by China, at 02:15-02:34 Beijing time on Saturday, Dec. 8 (18:15-18:34 UTC on Dec. 7). There are no indications that the launch will be broadcast live, so the first official post-launch news will likely be when the spacecraft enters its lunar transfer orbit, reports Andrew Jones for GBTimes.

Chang’e-4 will not land immediately, but will orbit the Moon for perhaps a month. There are indications that the landing could take place around Jan. 3, because of the sunrise then over the Von Karman crater. Chang’e-4 will land inside the relatively small, flat Von Karman crater, in the area of the huge ancient South Pole-Aitkin Basin, which has a proliferation of smaller craters inside indicating its age. High-resolution photographs taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal a strikingly different geology and geography on the far side than on the side facing Earth. The Chang’e-4 rover is equipped with an imaging spectrometer for analysis of the lunar soil, and a radar to look into the geological past of the far side of the Moon.

The landing mission was made possible by the May launch of the Queqiao relay satellite, which sits in a halo orbit past the Moon. From this vantage point, it can communicate with both the spacecraft on the Moon and mission control on Earth.

The world lunar science community (and the NASA Administrator) are eagerly awaiting the flow of data from Chang’e-4.