China’s space program has become the first to land a spacecraft on the so-called dark side of the moon. The landing on Thursday brought the country closer to its goal of becoming a space power.

The China National Space Administration said the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft at 10:26 in the morning Beijing Time has “opened up a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”

Chang’e 4 sent a picture taken at 11:40 in the morning back to Earth. It shows a small crater and an empty surface that appears to be lit by a light from the lunar explorer.

The name Chang’e comes from a Chinese goddess that many Chinese believe has lived on the moon for thousands of years.

 China wants to strengthen its position as a regional and international power.

Soon after President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, he said, “The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger.”

China’s space technology still lags behind the West, but with the landing on the far side of the moon, they have raced to the front.

China plans to explore Mars, Jupiter and asteroids in the future. “There’s no doubt that our nation will go farther and farther,” he said.

For now, China plans to send a Chang’e 5 spacecraft to the moon next year and have it return to Earth with collected particles.

The moon’s far side is not always dark. But it is often called the dark side because it faces away from Earth and little is known about it.

Yu Guobin is a Chang’e 4 mission spokesman. He said, “The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference from radio signals from Earth.”

He added the mission will “provide important information for studying the origin of stars and nebula evolution.”

One difficulty of operating on the far side of the moon is communicating with Earth. Last May, China launched a satellite so that Chang’e 4 could send back information.

China carried out its first crewed space mission in 2003. It became only the third country to do so after Russia and the United States.

China has two space stations in orbit and plans to launch a Mars exploration vehicle in the mid-2020s. Its space program suffered a rare delay last year with the failed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.


crater (n.) - a large round hole in the ground made by the explosion of a bomb or by something falling from the sky


lag (v.) - to be in a position that is behind others


lunar (adj.) - of or relating to the moon


nebula (n.) - a cloud of gas or dust in space that can sometimes be seen at night; a group of stars that are very far away and look like a bright cloud at night


origin (n.) - the point or place where something begins or is created; the source or cause of something


asteroid (n.) - any one of thousands of small planets that circle around the sun


regional (adj.) - relating to a part of a country, of the world, etc. that is different or separate from other parts in some way



Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.


  1. Where did China land its space craft?
  2. What is its name?
  3. What China plans to explore?
  4. When did China send a crew to space?


Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.


lag, lunar, origin, crater



Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.


  1. Is China becoming a super power?
  2. Why is space exploration important?
  3. What is that showing us?
  4. What are the long term plans of China?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by learningenglish.voanews.