Landing a spacecraft on the far side of the moon is a fine achievement – and propaganda win
Nasa rejected it as too difficult and costly an undertaking. Last week, China declared “mission accomplished” after landing a spacecraft, Chang’e-4, on the far side of the moon.
It was a remarkable endeavour. As the far side of the moon never faces the Earth, mission control cannot communicate directly with the spacecraft, but only via an orbiting satellite. The terrain is more broken and cratered than the near side, so landing a craft is that much more difficult. Even Nasa was impressed: “a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment!”, the administrator tweeted.
Space exploration has long been fuelled by a mixture of humanistic dreams, technological leaps and tawdry politics