China prepares for lunar sample collection with Chang’e-6 Mission

The Chang’e-6 mission carries the goal of collecting approximately 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of lunar samples from the far side of the moon, which always faces away from Earth.

China is poised to achieve a historic milestone in its space exploration program as it prepares to launch the Chang’e-6 lunar probe on Friday, May 3. This mission aims to collect samples from the far side of the moon, a feat that has never been accomplished before.

The Chang’e-6 probe, carried by a rocket, is scheduled for liftoff from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan province just before 5:30 p.m. local time, according to officials.

While the United States has warned that China’s space initiatives may be masking military objectives and an effort to establish extraterrestrial dominance, Beijing remains undeterred in its pursuit of space exploration.

The Chang’e-6 mission carries the goal of collecting approximately 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of lunar samples from the far side of the moon, which always faces away from Earth. This 53-day mission will also attempt a launch from the far side of the moon, a technically complex feat that highlights China’s growing capabilities in space exploration.

Ge Ping, vice director of China’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center, emphasized the significance of the mission, stating, “Chang’e-6 will collect samples from the far side of the moon for the first time.”

The probe is set to land in the immense South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system. Once there, it will scoop up lunar soil and rocks and conduct other experiments in the landing zone before lifting off from the moon’s surface and embarking on its journey back to Earth.

China’s “space dream” has been propelled into overdrive under President Xi Jinping, with the country pouring immense resources into its space program over the past decade. Beijing has successfully built a space station called Tiangong, or “heavenly palace,” and has achieved notable milestones, including landing robotic rovers on Mars and the moon and becoming the third country to independently send humans into orbit.

China’s ambitions extend even further, with plans to send a crewed mission to the moon by 2030 and establish a base on the lunar surface. This rapid progress has raised concerns in the United States, with NASA administrator Bill Nelson warning that the US is now in a “race” against Beijing.

As China continues to push the boundaries of space exploration with the Chang’e-6 mission, the international community will be closely watching this historic endeavour, which could pave the way for even more remarkable achievements in the realm of lunar exploration and beyond.