China to launch unmanned probe to explore far side of moon

China will launch an unmanned lunar probe to collect samples from the side of the moon never visible from Earth on Friday.

The Chang'e-6 lunar probe is scheduled to lift off for the moon's far side from a launch site in Hainan Province in the country's south.

The "sample-return" mission aims to collect and bring back rocks and other specimens.

An official of the China National Space Administration stressed the significance of the mission to reporters at the launch site on Thursday.

The official said that the samples will help mankind deepen its understanding of the moon's origin.

The official said it is hoped the mission will provide scientific value not only to China but also to all mankind.

Experts say the destination adds a level of difficulty to the mission. Continuous direct communication with the probe is impossible because radio waves from Earth do not reach the far side of the moon. If successful, the mission would be the first of its kind ever carried out.

Observers say China apparently aims to enhance its presence in space development -- an area led by the United States for many years.