Humans have never visited the far side of the Moon, since communication with Earth has proved problematic by the fact that radio signals don’t seem to reach it. Although we’ve seen some fantastic satellite images of how it looks, the far side of the Moon is still too alien for humans to develop a major project.

But China’s space agency is not turning down such a challenge, as it announced their plans of planting a space probe right there, on the far side of the moon, and the schedule is tighter than previously anticipated. If successful, China hopes to take the tile of ‘first country to make a successful landing on the Moon’s far side’ no later than 2020.

As reported by Xinhua, China’s national news agency, the country’s space program has made significant progress during the past decade, so much so that it now hopes to set a space probe on the side of the moon that we have never seen from Earth. Such a project would provide a unique insight and a great vantage point for collecting data.

With a fitting name, Chang’e 4 – named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology – is the space probe the space agency hopes to send out sometime in the next five years. Even though plenty of orbiters and space probes have flown over the ‘dark’ side of the moon, no country on Earth has yet attempted to land a spacecraft there.

The far side has been documented in photographs, but more details would come to light if a probe would actually land on the dusty surface of the Moon. China has made the initial announcement of their project back in May, but the actual plans are still rather foggy, as officials have refused to elaborate on them.

China has some history in probing the moon on its own, with their first manned mission to the moon ending last year. Before that, the Chang’e 3 mission had successfully inserted Youtu, a lunar rover on the moon’s surface.

But now it’s time for the Chang’e 4 mission, or so the plan goes, according to the presentation sent in June by the Chinese National Space Administration to the Outer Space Affairs. In the presentation, it was plain as the light of day what China had in mind: performing the “first soft-landing and exploration on the lunar far side in human history.”

China isn’t interested in taking all the recognition; the nation’s space agency has expressed interest in making space endeavors a collaborative effort by partnering with other nations. When presenting the space probe to the United Nations, China hinted to a possible partnership with the European Space Agency for the Chang’e 4 mission.
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