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China releases movie taken by Chang’e-6 during its lunar descent

Chang'e-6 landing zone
Chang’e-6’s landing zone is indicated by the
red box, on the edge of Apollo Creater
(indicated by the wavy circle).

China’s state-run press yesterday released a short movie created from images taken by its Chang’e-6 lander during its descent to the lunar surface on the far side of the Moon this past weekend.

I have embedded that footage below. The final five frames however are very puzzling, in that they do not appear to show a smooth descent to a specific spot, but appear to jump about wildly. Moreover, the footage does not appear to show the actual landing itself, but appears to stop while the spacecraft is still above the ground.

It is possible that this footage is simply showing the spacecraft’s software searching for a good landing spot, combined with a decision in China not to release footage of the actual touchdown. It could also be that something has gone wrong, and they are stalling about saying so. This last possibility I think very unlikely, but it must be considered, based on the information available.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • sippin_bourbon

    At this pace, the “next woman and first person of color” to walk on the moon is going to be Chinese.

  • Patrick Underwood

    WOW that thing sure looks like a LEM.

  • Milt

    Patrick — I thought the same thing.

    While NASA struggles to reinvent how to get to the moon, the Chinese simply “borrow” technology that has been proved to work and make improvements to it. And, yes, as sippin_bourbon observes, they will provide the “diversity” of skin color on the moon that NASA so desperately aspires to.

    More seriously, it almost seems as though The Powers That Be at NASA determined that anything that worked back in the 1960s is now verboten and *cannot* be used to go back to the moon today. God, no. Therefore using something (as the Chinese have done) like a scaled up LEM is off the table, as is the stacking / staging sequence of the Apollo missions. Nope, *that* worked, therefore we can’t use it again or make evolutionary improvements to that technology.

    Happily, SpaceX is looking to even earlier ideas (circa the 1950s — think of Arthur C. Clarke and those wonderful Chesley Bonestell paintings) about in-orbit refueling and reusable vehicles to go back to the moon. Back to the future, etc.

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