• A plane flies past the moon at sunset in London, England, on March 3, 2015.

A plane flies past the moon at sunset in London, England, on March 3, 2015. (Photo : Getty Images)

The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program announced last January that the probe called Chang'e 4 will be launching in 2018 to explore the dark side of the moon. The program's leader Ye Peijian said on Tuesday that a data relay satellite will be used as a communication platform between the Earth and Chang'e 4.

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"The moon is too small to block the signal transmission between Earth and the data relay satellite," Ye said. The satellite will be launched six months before Chang'e 4 and will be 80,000 kilometers away from the moon.

The dark or far side of the moon can't be seen directly and has never been explored by humans. The lunar exploration's second-in-command Liu Zizhing told People's Daily Online that the probe's mission is to gather data about the dark side of the moon and see if placing a satellite there is possible.

Chinese Lunar Exploration Program

According to space.com, China's lunar exploration program has several phases that started back in 2007 with the launch of Chang'e 1. It mapped the moon from its orbit before a planned crash in the lunar surface in 2009.

A second orbiter called Chang'e 2 was launched in 2010 to also map the moon in greater detail as well as complete a flyby of an asteroid. The orbiter then proceeded to the deeper parts of space and solar system.

The third phase of the program, Chang'e 3 with a rover called "Yutu" landed on the lunar surface in 2013 and explored a small area of the moon.

Chang'e 5 is expected to launch sometime next year and gather some lunar samples.