By Leonard David
China is getting set to launch the first-ever surface mission to the moon’s far side.
The robotic Chang’e 4 mission is scheduled to launch atop a Long March 3B rocket on Friday (Dec. 7) at around 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT; 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 8 local China time).
If all goes according to plan, Chang’e 4’s lander-rover duo will touch down within the moon’s South Pole‐Aitken (SPA) basin after a 27-day flight, then study both the surface and subsurface of this region.
Both the lander and the rover were designed as backups for China’s successful Chang’e 3 mission, which put a lander and a rover named Yutu down on the moon in December 2013.
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