China Launches Chang’e 6 to the Dark Side of the Moon

China launches Chang'e 6
China launches Chang’e 6. Credit: CGTN

Ibadan, 3 May 2024. – China has launched its Chang’e 6 mission from the Wenchang Space Launch Center to the far side of the moon. The Chang’e probe will consequently land in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, with the aim of collecting about two kilograms of lunar samples, including lunar soil and rocks, which it will subsequently try to return back to Earth.

Ge Ping, Deputy Director of Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center, China National Space Administration, explained that “The main task for the Chang’e 6 mission is to return samples from the far side of the moon. The pre-selected landing area is within the Aitken Basin in the South Pole, which is generally older than the near side of the moon.”

The Deputy Director also explained, “To retrieve samples from the far side of the moon, there are some key points to consider. First, the Queqiao 2 relay satellite must enable communication between the probe on the moon’s far side and the Earth. The telemetry and communication requirements must be met. Second, we need to master the design and control technology for the lunar retrograde orbit. Third, we need to ace the intelligent sampling and ascent technology on the far side of the moon.”

Upon completing the sample-return mission, China will conduct systematic, long-term laboratory research on the sample, including analysis of the structure, physical properties, and composition of the lunar soil. These would consequently further studies of the moon’s origin and its evolutionary history.

Following Chang’e-6, China will send Chang’e-7 to Shackleton Crater and would include a rover and a small flying probe. On the other hand, Chang’e 8 would experiment with in-situ resource utilization at the Moon’s south pole, including testing the viability of using plants and microbes for life support.

Check Also

Redwire Wins NASA’s Mars Commercial Service Study

Redwire has won a study contract for Design Reference Mission (DRM) 3 of NASA’s Mars Commercial Services program, which outlines a commercial imagery mission to support lower-cost, higher-frequency missions to the Red Planet. While currently in a study phase, the program will eventually expand into service contracts for products from operational assets.