China to send probe to dark side of moon by 2018

SHANGHAI, 15th January, 2016 (WAM)--China plans to land the first probe ever on the dark side of the moon by 2018, marking another milestone in its ambitious space programme.

China has launched a new round of work focussed on lunar exploration, coming about two years after it made the first "soft landing" on the moon since 1976 with the Chang'e-3 craft and its Jade Rabbit rover.

Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon, that is never visible from earth, but none has landed on it.

A new probe, the Chang'e-4, is similar to the Chang'e-3 but can carry a bigger payload, said head of the science, technology and defence industry administration's lunar exploration centre.