China endorses Phase-4 moon mission with an international lunar research station

Phase four of China’s lunar exploration program has gotten state approval and is continuing smoothly, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) declared on Saturday, following the country’s declaration of the revelation of new mineral Changesite-(Y) on September 9.

The Phase-4 lunar mission, comprising of the Chang’e-6, – 7, and – 8, is to be completed progressively in 10 years with the points of investigating the moon’s South Pole region and building a basic structure for the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), said Liu Jizhong, director of Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center under the CNSA.

The Chang’e-6 will be shipped off recover samples from the most distant side of the moon and return them to Earth.

“The production of the Chang’e-6 probe has almost been completed. To better understand the moon, given that the Chang’e-4 went to the far side of the moon for the first time, we, after discussions with engineers and scientists, decided to have the Chang’e-6 probe to retrieve samples from the far side of the moon and return them to Earth. So the samples will be much more valuable,” Liu told China Media Group (CMG).

As per the CNSA, the exploration of the South Pole will be finished by Chang’e-6 and – 7, while Chang’e-8 will include key technologies for lunar surface tests and preliminary exploration for the development of the ILRS.

Liu said the Chang’e-7 probe is a work in progress.

“The purpose of our missions is to lay the foundation for building a lunar station, so there are a lot of technologies to be tackled and we need to explore the energy on the moon. Great challenges lay ahead of us. However, with our previous experiences and an excellent team, I believe we will succeed.”

China’s lunar probe missions

China launched four lunar missions somewhere in the range of 2007 and 2019 under the country’s lunar exploration program, known as the Chang’e Project after the Chinese moon goddess.

China’s first lunar probe, the Chang’e-1, was launched in October 2007. It was a lunar-orbiting spacecraft that worked 200 kilometers over the moon. Gathering a gigantic amount of information, it denoted the initial step of China’s aggressive three-step moon mission.

The Chang’e-2 probe, which was launched in 2010, traveled in excess of 100 million kilometers from Earth, establishing a standard for the longest flight by a Chinese rocket.

In 2013, the Chang’e-3 became China’s first spacecraft to delicate land on the moon and the Yutu rover drove on the moon.

In 2018, the Chang’e-4 landed on the far side of the moon, the first spacecraft to do as such.

The Chang’e-5 probe landed on Earth with 1,731 grams of samples from the moon in 2020, denoting the completion of China’s first attempt to recover and return samples from the moon.