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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

China launches historic mission to retrieve samples from far side of the moon

China's largest rocket - the Long March-5 - blasted off from the southern island of Hainan, with the Chang'e-6 probe in tow.

China launched a historic uncrewed mission to the far side of the moon on Friday, the first country to embark on such an ambitious attempt.

China’s largest rocket – the Long March-5 – blasted off from the southern island of Hainan, with the Chang’e-6 probe in tow.

It’s tasked with retrieving rocks and soil during the nearly two-month-long mission.

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The launch could make China the first country to collect samples from the side of the moon which perpetually faces away from Earth.

It’s another milestone in the country’s lunar and space exploration program.

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Previous missions marked the first time humans had retrieved lunar samples in over four decades, as well as China’s first unmanned moon landing.

The latest probe is set to land in June.

It will spend two days gathering over four pounds of samples before returning home.

Beyond gathering new information, the probe is part of a long-term project to build a permanent research station on the moon – led by China and Russia.

While scientists, diplomats and space agency officials from Europe and Pakistan were at the launch, and have gear on board, a Chinese space official said no U.S. organizations applied for a payload spot.

American law bans China from any collaboration with the U.S. space agency, NASA.