China targets 2024 for next lunar sample return mission

The new colonial movement: China’s next robotic lunar sample return mission, called Chang’e-6 and targeted for a 2024 launch, will also attempt to bring back the first samples from the far side of the Moon.

Hu Hao, chief engineer of the China Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center, announced in a statement released on China’s national space day in April this year that the Chang’e 6 probe, consisting of an orbiter, lander, lunar ascent vehicle and reentry capsule, will target the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin.The SPA basin is a colossal, ancient impact crater roughly 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) in diameter that covers almost a quarter of the moon’s far side. The impact basin, considered to be the oldest on the moon, holds vital clues about the history of the moon and the solar system, according to a new report.

The precise spot for landing has not been revealed. Since the basin is so large and covers the Moon’s south pole, the mission could land in that region where ice is thought to possibly exist in the permanently shadowed floors of some craters. Whether they would attempt a landing in one of those craters is presently unknown, though unlikely because of the technical challenge.

International payloads will fly on China’s Chang’e-6 lunar sample return mission

The new colonial movement: China today announced that it is reserving space on its Chang’e-6 lunar sample return mission for international experiments.

The orbiter and lander of the Chang’e-6 mission will each reserve 10 kg for payloads, which will be selected from both domestic colleges, universities, private enterprises and foreign scientific research institutions, said Liu Jizhong, director of the China Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the CNSA, at a press conference.

I suspect that the majority of these experiments will be Chinese, but I am also sure that China will get at least one international partner.