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China flies to the moon

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China flies to the moon

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China aims to catch up with Russia and the United States in the space race by launching a satellite to explore the dark side of the moon.

The satellite, known as Magpie Bridge, will settle in an orbit about 455,000 km from earth and the launch is a key step for China in realising its goal of being the first country to soft-land on the far side of the moon.

Magpie Bridge will establish communication between earth and a planned lunar probe to boldly go where no superpower has gone before.

China is also planning to launch construction of its own manned space station next year.

However, while China has insisted its ambitions in space are purely peaceful, the U.S. Defense Department has accused it of pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis.

China aims to become a major space power by 2030.