Chang'e 4 mission blasts off Saturday, aims to become 1st lander, rover to explore moon's far side China was preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission early Saturday to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and U.S. With its Chang'e 4 mission, China hopes to become the first country to ever successfully undertake such a landing. The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed. If successful, the mission scheduled to blast off aboard a Long March 3B rocket will propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration. China landed its Yutu, or Jade Rabbit rover, on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and have it return to Earth with samples — the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lunar mission is also under consideration.