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The eastern superpower is the only country to land on the moon in more than 40 years, since the Soviet Luna programme. The Chang’e 5 mission, named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, launched at 4.30am Beijing time on Tuesday.
China’s space programme is rapidly improving but competes with the US Artemis Programme which aims to return humans to the moon by 2024.
The European Space Agency plans to send a lander in the mid-to-late 2020s.
Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, told a daily news briefing on Tuesday the launch took “one’s breath away”.
He said “peaceful” space exploration is a shared goal of human beings.
China’s space mission is targeting Mons Rumker, a 4,265-foot high volcanic plain on the moon’s near side.
It is located in Oceanus Procellarum – which is a Latin translation of Ocean of Storms.
Mr Zhao told reporters: “The stunning picture of the Chang’e-5 unit lighting up the night sky and the more impressive video clip with the roaring launch really take one’s breath away.
“We hope and believe that Chang’e-5 will make a safe return with greetings from the moon.
“Mankind’s exploration of space is infinite. Peaceful exploration and use of outer space is a common cause for all human beings, a cause that should lead to greater welfare for all.
“China is committed to peaceful exploration and use of outer space.
“We stand ready to work together with other countries to contribute more to this cause and advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”
Long March-5, China’s largest carrier rocket, left the Wenchang space launch centre on the island of Hainan.
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Its task is to recover soil and rock using a lander before bringing it back to Earth.
Last month Dr Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said he believes China could rule space, causing issues for their US competitors.
“The Chinese have made it very clear they intend to be a comprehensive space power, certainly by 2049. That is in their official statements.
“I think they’re probably moving faster than that to try and achieve that goal.
“So we’ll see how they go about that. It’s not just the military side of things there, it’s also the civil and commercial side of things.
“When you look at how the Americans are responding with the US Space Force, their responses are in-part driven by concerns the Chinese will have a presence up in cislunar space to dominate that area, and deny it to the US.”
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