China has launched a historic space mission to the dark side of the moon.

On Friday, a Long March rocket launched the moon landing craft Chang'e-4 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southern China.

If everything goes as planned, the mission would be the first time a rover has landed on the other side of the moon.

It shows Beijing's growing ambitions as a space power that can compete with Russia, the European Union and the US.

With the mission Chang'e 4, China hopes to be the first country to make a soft landing. This is a spacecraft landing that does not cause severe damage.

The back of the moon is also referred to as the dark side because it points away from Earth and remains relatively unknown. It has a different composition than nearby sites where previous missions have landed.

If successful, the mission would make the Chinese Space Program a leader in one of the most important areas of lunar research.

According to Global timesThe start, which took place in China at 2:23 pm local time, was successful.

Although no exact date is planned for the arrival, it is expected that the rocket carrying a lander and a lunar rover will reach the finish of Von Kármán Crater in early January.

The crater, which is located on the side of the moon facing away from the earth, is an interesting area in the South Pole Aitken Basin.

Upon arrival, Chang & # 39; e-4 will use a variety of instruments, including cameras, ground radar, and spectrometers to analyze and identify surrounding rock and dirt New York Times,

Seeds were also sent as part of an experiment to see if living things can grow on the moon.

Once they reach their destination, the scientists will rely on the Queqiao satellite, which was launched in May of this year, to communicate with the rover.

The mission, which would allow close-up views from the other side of the moon, is part of China's increasing investment in exploring the moon.

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The Rover's design is based on the Chang'e 3 vehicle, which landed on the moon in 2013 – the first rover to do so since 1976.

Chang'e-5 and 6 will be the next steps for China with the aim of bringing samples from the moon.

China completed its first manned space mission in 2003, making it the third country after Russia and the US. It has brought a pair of space stations into orbit, one of which still serves as the forerunner of a more than 60-tonne station to go online in 2022. The launch of a Mars Rover is planned for the mid-2020s.

Additional reporting by agencies