Science.-China approves robotic missions in pursuit of a future lunar base

04-01-2022 Illustration by Chang’e 6 CLEP RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY


China has approved the fourth phase of its lunar exploration program, which includes a basic model of a research station built on the Moon over the next decade.

According to Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), China will carry out this new phase of lunar exploration with the future missions Chang’e-6, Chang’e-7 and Chang’e-8, reports Xinhua. The launch of the first is expected in 2024.

As planned, the Chang’e-7 probe will launch to the moon’s south pole. Since Chang’e-6 is a backup to the Chang’e-5 sample return mission, it will launch after Chang’e-7 to bring samples to the lunar south pole. The Chang’e-6 mission will be followed by Chang’e-8, a step towards building a model of a lunar scientific research station.

“We are also preparing to work with Russia to build the basic model of the lunar research station,” Wu said in a recent interview. “The construction of the station will lay a solid foundation for us to better explore the lunar environment and resources, including how to use and develop lunar resources peacefully.”

The Chang’e-5 probe was launched in 2020, having recovered a total of 1,731 grams of lunar samples. China is currently operating the Chang’e-4 lander and the Yutu 2 rover on the opposite side of the moon. They made the first soft landing in the Von Karman crater in the South Pole-Aitken basin on the opposite side of the moon in 2019.

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