China has become the first nation ever to successfully land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. The official China Central Television station announced that the lunar explorer spaceship, Chang'e 4, touched down at 10:26am on Thursday. Professor Zhu Menghua, from Macau University of Science and Technology, said the success of the mission was a major milestone for China and established the nation as a pioneer in space exploration. He told the New York Times: "We Chinese people have done something that the Americans have not dared try." Sun Zezhou, chief designer of Chang'e-4, said: "Landing on the far side of the moon is more risky than landing on the near side."
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The Chang'e-4 probe started sending photographs back to Earth soon after it landed on the moon's surface. The China National Space Administration said the mission had, "lifted the mysterious veil" from the far side of the moon and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration". Sun Zezhou told reporters about the significance of the program. He said it would, "help lay the foundation for future space exploration." He added: "A high-precision landing is a necessity for further exploring the moon and asteroids. We hope to be able to reach the whole moon and even the whole solar system." China also has plans to launch a returnable spacecraft (Chang'e 5) by 2020.