China says it exchanged data with NASA on far side landing

China and NASA worked together to track historic Chinese spacecraft as it landed on the far side of the moon, officials reveal

  • Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 landed on the far side of the moon on January 4 
  •  NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite  
  • China in turn shared the time and coordinates of Chang’e 4’s scheduled landing
  • Move allowed NASA to take pictures of the area after landing 

China exchanged data with NASA on its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.

The space agency’s deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to land on the far side of the moon earlier this month.

China in turn shared the time and coordinates of Chang’e 4’s scheduled landing, Wu told reporters during a briefing on the lunar mission. 

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In this photo provided Jan. 12, 2019, by China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, the rover Yutu-2 is seen in a photo taken by the lander of the Chang’e-4 probe on Jan. 11, 2019. China’s space agency says it worked with NASA to collect data from the far side of the moon. The state-run China Daily said this was the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval. (China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency via AP)

CHINA’S MOON BASE PLANS 

China wants to be the first country to establish a base on the moon and says it will build it using 3D printing technology. 

Officials from the Chinese space agency also said the country will return to the moon by the end of the year with the Chang’e-5 mission.  

Three successive missions will further explore the barren surface and the viability of building houses there.

China National Space Administration (CNSA) said they also have plans to go to Mars in 2020, a timeline that would likely make them the first to do so, beating out the US, Russia and the plethora of private firms looking to colonise space. 

China successfully achieved a global first with its trip to the far side of the moon when it landed in the Von Kármán crater on January 4.

 

He added that while NASA’s satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.

The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.

NASA has not published any statements on the collaboration and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The lunar mission by Chang’e 4 and its rover, Jade Rabbit 2, was a triumph for China’s growing space program, which has been rapidly catching up with those of Russia and the U.S. President Xi Jinping has placed space exploration among the country’s national development priorities and the far side mission offered a chance for China to do something not done before by any other country.

The far side of the moon – the side which faces away from Earth – posed a challenge for scientists because it is beyond radio signals’ reach. 

China set up a relay satellite in May to receive communication from Chang’e 4.

“In the past, we were always rushing to catch up to the advanced global standards”in space, said Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar exploration project.

“There were many things to catch up on, and fewer things in which we could surpass others,” he said. 

“With the probe of the far side of the moon this time, Chinese people have done very well.”

Officials at the briefing declined to give specific figures on the costs of the space program.


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Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the national space agency, speaks during a press conference held in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Wu said Monday that NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to set down on the far side of the moon earlier this month. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Wu Yanhua said the Chang’e 4 was originally built as a “backup product” for Chang’e 3. He said the spending needed to refit it for its new objective was akin to repairing a short section of subway line.

Around the end of this year, China plans to launch Chang’e 5, which is to collect and bring back samples from the near side of the moon, the first time that has been done since 1976. Scientists are still researching whether to send Chinese astronauts, Wu said.

The country has also said that it will welcome scientists and astronauts from around the world to make use of its space station, which is slated for completion by 2022.

In this photo provided Jan. 12, 2019, by the China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, the lunar lander of the Chang’e-4 probe is seen in a photo taken by the rover Yutu-2 on Jan. 11, 2019. China’s space agency says it worked with NASA to collect data from the far side of the moon. The state-run China Daily said this was the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval. (China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency via AP)

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