So China, since they have tons of money (and all of our money too), has decided that they want to go to the moon. With people. In order to do that, they need to find a place to land on the moon, and rather than map it with super high-powered telescopes like we did, they decided to send a probe to orbit it for five days and try to find a good spot. Seems reasonable enough.
In order to launch a probe though, you need a huge-ass rocket. And not all of the rocket gets to go all the way to the moon, since some of it exists only to push the rest of it out of Earth’s gravity. The pushing part of the rocket then falls back to Earth, where you hope it doesn’t hit anyone.
In the US, we launch everything from Florida, which is right next to a huge expanse of ocean, so we just point the rocket so that it falls into the ocean and everything’s dandy. In Japan, they do the same thing. Same with France and everyone else who’s ever launched a rocket into space. Even Russia, who launched their stuff from deep in the heart of the continent, managed to make the boosters fall in the ocean.
Then China came along. Now China is a very big country, so it’s possible to be very far from the coast, but if Russia can do it, so can they. Not to mention they actually have quite a lot of coast off of which to drop huge chunks of rocket, as demonstrated here.
But since you’re reading about this story on my blog, you can guess whether they landed it in the blue zone or not.
No, what they did is to scatter several parts all over the Chinese countryside. Miraculously, no one was killed, but this is only China’s second lunar probe. If they drop a solid fuel booster on a house, there will be problems.
Get it together, China.