China has a track record of slow gradual advancement in space flight technology which is unlikely to alarm the US of A into action in the way Sputnik did. The timeline of their advancement suggests no reason to panic about their space program. Their achievement is great. Landing on the far side of the moon (the side which always faces away from the earth is no small feat.) This is a great achievement, but this is not the beginning of a new epoch of history or any such thing.
This is the image taken from China’s probe on the surface of the far side of the Moon. Relayed by a satellite at Earth Moon Lagrange point L2. This is a place where the gravitational influences of the Earth and Moon act to hold satellites in place. The forces cancel out like L1 mentioned below. I’d hope that these images would convince flat Earthers and moon landing deniers once and for all. After all if Russia and the US agreed to conspire to hide those facts why would China go along with it. Surely they have a tailor made answer.
Seeing A New Side Of The Moon.
This animated Gif from NASA shows the Moon passing between the camera on the NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite and the Earth. From this vantage point at Sun-Earth Lagrange point L1, a point between the two where the gravitational force applied by the Sun and Earth cancel out (Though due to other bodies in the system this is not perfect). From here it can see the far side of the Moon. The Moon rotates on it’s axis once for every time it revolves around the earth. This means that we only see one side of it from Earth. This makes missions to the near side much easier and missions to the far side much harder. This is why the far side is often called the “Dark side”. This side is dark in the sense that we know much less about it.
Why This Will Not Be A Sputnik Moment?
Consider the following Sputnik was flown by the USSR “Russia” on October 4th of 1957. Then Uri Gagarin went into space on 12 April 1961. The USSR went from orbiting a very simple satellite to orbiting a human in four years. Then 12 years after Sputnik, NASA’s Apollo 11 landed humans on the Moon meanwhile the USSR began to make progress on space stations which lead to the ISS. All of that happened in 12 years.
China, with all the public information about how space travel works to draw on has taken from the launch of Shenzou 5 and Taikonaut Yang Liwei in 2003 to today to put a unmanned probe on the moon. This took them 16 years. Furthermore, the rest of the world is ahead by decades. China may land a man on the moon within 5-10 years. Meanwhile if Space X and ULA can get it together the US could be back on the Moon to shake their hands already.
Furthermore, Sputnik heralded the possibility of attack by nuclear missiles. That has been around so long it seems many people have forgotten about all of the warheads currently loaded and ready to launch with about 5 minutes notice.
In short this is a great achievement, but this is not the beginning of a new epoch of history or any such thing. No need to panic. Keep calm and carry on.