China announced that it will launch its next lunar mission, Chang’e 6, in 2024 to land and collect samples in a region on the far side of the Moon that has long intrigued scientists.
The mission will consist of several components, including a spacecraft that will stay in orbit, a lunar module that will land in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, an elevator and a reentry module.
One of the main developments of this mission will be the launch of the Queqiao 2 relay satellite, scheduled for the first half of 2024, to facilitate communication between the Chang’e 6 probe and Earth, ensuring efficient data transmission.
If the mission is successful, this will be the first time that samples have been obtained from the far side of the Moon, which could reveal valuable information about the satellite’s history.
In addition to its scientific importance, Chang’e 6 will carry international cargo on its spacecraft and lunar module, which includes 10 kilograms of foreign equipment.
France, Italy and the European Space Agency will contribute scientific instruments, while Pakistan will provide payload.
China’s latest lunar probe, Chang’e 5, traveled to the satellite in 2020, where it collected 1,731 grams of soil samples.
The Chang’e program, named after a goddess who according to Chinese legends lives on the Moon, began with the launch of a first probe in 2007.
The Chang’e 6 announcement came after the Mooncake Festival, celebrated on Friday night, during which Chinese people traditionally take to the streets with lanterns to help the goddess Chang’e reunite with her husband.
In recent years, the Chinese space program has achieved several successes, such as landing the Chang’e 4 probe on the far side of the Moon – an unprecedented feat – and placing a probe on Mars, becoming the third country – after the United States and former Soviet Union – to do so.
China also completed a permanent space station last year, the culmination of more than a decade of efforts to maintain a constant presence of crew members in orbit.
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