China heads for the Moon’s far side, NASA listens to Martian winds, and a Dragon arrives at the ISS

Lots of activity in space this weekend:

** Moon: China launched on Friday the Chang’e-4 mission to the far side of the Moon. The 3,780 kg package includes a lander (1,200 kg), a rover (140 kg). This will be the first mission of any kind to the surface of the side of the Moon that never faces Earth due to tidal locking. A lunar orbiter was launched earlier to serve as a communications relay. The landing date has not been announced yet.

Chang’e 4 Rover on the Moon (Image: CNSA)

** Mars: Insight is busy setting up its experiments and listening to the Martian wind.

This image from InSight’s robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft’s deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background. The image was received on Dec. 4, 2018 (Sol 8). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech Full image and caption

** Earth Orbit: The SpaceX Dragon, launched on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral last Wednesday, rendezvoused and berthed to the ISS this morning. It joins five other spaceships attached to the station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo vehicle, two Russian Progress cargo vehicles, and two Russian Soyuz crew vehicles.

Dec. 8, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are attached at the space station including the U.S. resuppy ships Northrop Grumman Cygnus and the SpaceX Dragon; and Russia’s Progress 70 and Progress 71 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-09 and MS-10 crew ships all from Roscosmos.


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