Yesterday China successfully landed a probe on the previously unexplored far side of the moon, an event which has been described as a “historic moment” in space exploration.
China Central Television (CCTV) announced that this was “humanity’s first soft landing of a probe and the first relay communication between the Moon and Earth,” and that this opened “a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”
The success of the mission has added to speculation over whether a manned moon visit can be far behind, leading to bookmaker Paddy Power announcing its odds on such an event taking place in the next few years.
Despite the success of the landing, dubbed by Nasa administrator Jim Brindestine as “an impressive accomplishment”, the complexity of a manned mission means that an eager world may have some time to wait.
The chances of a Chinese astronaut walking on the moon in 2019 are currently being given at 16/1. However, these odds fall rapidly with each successive year, nearing evens in 2022 at 9/2.
So far, Chinese authorities have promoted their space achievements as ones all humanity may share. The Global Times newspaper said that the program, “has always harboured the dream of a human community of shared destiny“, and that right from the beginning, “all of our images and data have been presented openly to the international community and used by scientists worldwide.“
America largely turned its back on lunar missions after the early 1970s, and no human being has set foot on the moon since Eugene Cernan in 1972.