China Has Been Quietly Planning a Dark Side of the Moon Landing For This Weekend

Typically, when a nation’s space agency decides on a major mission into any part of space, they make sure that the world knows about it months or even years in advance. According to reports, China may have gone with the exact opposite approach in regards to its plan to land the first lunar spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. What’s even more bizarre is that the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has still not announced the really important launch, but it is rumored to be scheduled for this weekend.

An article on the National Space Science Data Center website (NASA’s archive for space physics mission data) says that the Chang’e 4 mission will launch around the 7-8 of December from Xichang, China. The targeting landing site for the spacecraft is located in the Von Karman crater in the moon’s southern hemisphere on the side that faces away from Earth. The lander will include a rover and a landing platform, and because of the target location, CNSA will reportedly use a relay satellite (launched this past May) in a halo orbit to maintain communication while Chang’e-4 performs radio astronomy experiments. This is a pretty big deal, so why are you just hearing about it?

“Western reporting of the Chinese space program is abysmal,” space analyst Brian Harvey told Forbes. “Most people don’t even know that China has a space program.” It could also be the lack of fanfare in general surrounding the launch. All of the details so far are rumors and speculation with no direct quotes from the CNSA. At the time of this post, no updates have been posted to the administration’s website or social media accounts. Maybe they are waiting to make history before issuing a statement? Or maybe someone misinterpreted information about a future launch and it greatly a snowball effect of misinformation. Keep your eyes on Xichang over the next couple of days to see if there is a rocket flying overhead.

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