After a four-and-half-day flight to the moon, the Chang’e-4 lander and rover spacecraft from China successfully entered lunar orbit on Wednesday.

At 3:45 a.m. Eastern (08:45 UTC) on December 12th, Chang’e-4 entered an elliptical lunar polar orbit with a perilune of 100 kilometres after a lunar orbit insertion burn.

Chang’e-4 single main variable thruster fired at 129 kilometres distant from the moon after the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center (BACC) issued the order at 03:39 Eastern.

The China Lunar Exploration Project (CLEP) revealed the success of this critical braking maneuver within minutes and confirmed that the spacecraft was working correctly and will begin preparations for communications tests with a relay satellite and refining its orbit.

In other news, the next test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane is set for December 13th. This flight could be the first by SpaceShipTwo to reach at least one definition of space.

In a statement issued on December 11th, the company explained that the next powered test flight of VSS Unity, the second SpaceShipTwo, is slated for a window that opens December 13th from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. 

The flight would be the fourth powered flight for this spacecraft and the first since July. The statement came shortly after the publication of airspace restrictions in the vicinity of the airport for the rocket launch and recovery for December 13th through the 15th.

Are you excited about Chang’e-4's soft landing on the far side of the Moon? What do you think they will find?

Let's discuss in the comments below!