Beijing: China has unveiled a new lunar rover as it prepares to become the first nation in the world to explore the dark side of the moon, in the past couple of decades and late 2018 will mark a real milestone for the country’s space program. The country has just announced that it plans on launching a lunar rover to the far side of the Moon in December of this year. China is currently playing a game of catch up with other world powers. According to an international media in a speech to the Pentagon last week, Vice President Mike Pence accused China and Russia of developing technologies and weapons to target US satellites.
The announcement comes via China’s state-run news agency, the unmanned vehicle is 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and about one meter (3.3 feet) wide and tall, with two foldable solar panels and six wheels.
China announced its intentions in 2015 to send a rover to the dark side of the moon. In May this year, it launched a relay satellite to establish a communication link between Earth and the planned lunar probe.
The country’s last lunar rover named Yutu, or Jade Rabbit ceased operation in August 2016 after 972 days of service on the surface of the moon as part of the Chang’e 3 mission. China was only the third nation to successfully carry out a lunar landing, after the United States and Russia.
When it comes to space exploration, China is currently playing a game of catch up with other world powers. The country didn’t put much of a focus on space until relatively recently, but it’s made some impressive progress in recent years. Along with these lunar rovers and its own (somewhat ill-fated) space station launches, China has kicked around the idea of sending manned missions to the Moon as well as exploration efforts on Mars and beyond.
According to Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of China’s national space agency, the country is also studying the possibility of sending a man to the moon, and also has plans to send probes to Jupiter and its moons. China is also planning to have a fully operational permanent space station by 2022 around the same time funding for the International Space Station is expected to end.
While Beijing is careful to stress its “peaceful motives” in exploring space, the US views China along with Russia as a potential threat, prompting US President Donald Trump to call for the establishment of a “space force” by 2020.
In a speech to the Pentagon last week, Vice President Mike Pence accused China and Russia of developing technologies and weapons to target US satellites and “working to bring new weapons of war into space itself.”