China launched its fourth and most ambitious lunar exploration mission on December 7, 2018. Liftoff of the Chang’e-4 probe with latest lunar rover took place at 18:15 UTC from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center using a Long March-3B/G3Z launch vehicle thundering from the LC2 Launch Complex. If successful, this will be the first mission to land on the far side of the Moon.
The launch took place on the first opportunity of the launch window available from 18:15 UTC to 18:34 UTC.
The Chang’e-4 mission is part of the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth. It follows the success of the Chang’e-1, Chang’e-2 and Chang’e-3 missions in 2007, 2010 and 2013.
The launch mass of Chang’e-4 spacecraft is around 3,780 kg, while the lander has a mass of around 1,200 kg and the rover has a mass of 140 kg.
The mission is composed of two distinct elements: the lander and the rover. The lander is equipped with a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) to power the lunar operations during the three-month mission. The energy will be used to power the scientific payload of seven instruments and cameras.
The lunar rover will explore ...