China launched a rover early Saturday destined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Beijing’s ambitions to become a space superpower, state media said.

The Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission—named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology—launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch center at 2:23 am (1823 GMT), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang’e-4 mission, expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and survey the untrodden terrain.

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