China launches probe to far side of moon

Chinese space agency officials say they have successfully launched an uncrewed probe to collect samples from the far side of the moon.

The announcement came on Friday, shortly after the Chang'e-6 launched from a site on the southern island of Hainan.

The spacecraft is designed to bring back rocks and other samples.

If successful, the mission will be the first of its kind. But experts say there are significant challenges.

Continuous direct communication with the lunar probe is impossible because radio waves from Earth do not reach the far side of the moon.

The Chinese officials say they plan to collect about two kilograms' worth of samples and bring the probe back to Earth 53 days after launch.

Space exploration is growing increasingly competitive, with more countries joining a field led by the United States for years.