June 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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A Chinese spacecraft lands on the far side of the moon

A Chinese spacecraft lands on the far side of the moon

Just hours after NASA had to Florida launch cancelled For the second time aboard a Boeing Starliner, a Chinese spacecraft touched down on the far side of the moon on Sunday to collect soil and rock samples that could provide insight into the differences between the less-explored region and the more famous near side.

The China National Space Administration said the lander landed at 6:23 a.m. Beijing time in a huge crater known as the Antarctic-Aitken Basin.

This mission is the sixth in the Chang’e lunar exploration program, named after the Chinese moon goddess. This is the second designed to return samples, after Chang’e 5, which did so from the near side in 2020.

The moon program is part of a growing rivalry with the United States — which remains a leader in space exploration — and other countries, including Japan and India. China has put its own space station in orbit and regularly sends crews there.

FILE – This photo provided by the China National Space Administration on Jan. 12, 2019 via Xinhua News Agency shows the Chang’e-4 lunar lander in an image taken by the Yutu-2 rover on Jan. 11. It is preparing to launch a lunar probe on Friday, May 3, 2024, to land on the far side of the moon and return with samples that could provide insight into geological and other differences between the less-explored region and the known near side. .

China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency via AP, file

The emerging global power aims to send a human to the moon before 2030, making it the second country after the United States to do so. America is planning to land astronauts on the moon again – for the first time in more than 50 years – although NASA pushed back the target date to 2026 earlier this year.

US efforts to use private rockets to launch spacecraft have been repeatedly delayed. A last-minute computer problem forced the cancellation of the scheduled launch of Boeing’s first astronaut flight on Saturday from Cape Canaveral. The Boeing Starliner, carrying two astronauts bound for the International Space Station, was less than four minutes away from liftoff when the computer system issued an automatic hold. NASA initially said it would attempt another launch on Sunday, before delaying the potential launch until at least Wednesday.

Last month, trouble With pressure relief valve On Starliner’s Atlas 5 rocket, along a Helium leak In the capsule’s propulsion module, the launch attempt on May 6 was aborted.

The first Starliner test flight is Boeing’s answer to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, an already operational, less expensive spacecraft that has carried 50 astronauts, cosmonauts and civilians into orbit in 13 flights, 12 of them to the space station, since the initial test flight in May 2020.

Earlier on Saturday, a Japanese billionaire canceled his plan to orbit the moon due to uncertainty over the development of a massive rocket by SpaceX. NASA plans to use the rocket to send its astronauts to the moon.

On the current China mission, the lander will use a mechanical arm and auger to collect up to 4.4 pounds of surface and subterranean material over about two days.

Then, an ascender atop the lander will take the samples in a metal vacuum container to another module orbiting the moon. The container will be transferred to a reentry capsule that is scheduled to return to Earth in the deserts of China’s Inner Mongolia region around June 25.

Journeys to the far side of the Moon are more difficult because it is not facing Earth, requiring a satellite to maintain communications. The terrain is also more rugged, with less flat areas of land.

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