China’s Chang’e 6 Moon Mission Adds 4 International Payloads

Artist's conception of the Chinese Chang'e 5 mission, which was completed in 2020.

Artist’s conception of the Chinese Chang’e 5 mission, which was completed in 2020.
illustration: CNSA

Two years ago, China’s Chang’e 5 Mission Made history by bringing lunar samples back to Earth for the first time in more than 40 years. The mission’s successor, Chang’e 6, is not only designed to bring back a second batch of samples from the far side of the moon – a feat never attempted before –It will also bring four payloads for the ride.

The Chang’e 6 mission is scheduled to launch in 2025 aboard a Long March 5 rocket from China’s Wenchang Cosmodrome on the coast. Unlike its predecessor, which landed on the near side of the moon, Chang’e 6 will set course to the lunar south polar region on the other side (the side of the moon that never faces Earth) for its sampling obligations.

In 2018, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) issued a call to international partners wishing to hitchhike a ride on the journey. From 20 proposals, the space agency selected four to be included in its Chang’e 6 mission, namely payloads from France, Italy, Sweden and Pakistan, CNSA revealed in a press release.

The French space agency CNES will make the contribution mandrel (Detection of Outgassing Radon) instrument designed to measure radon concentrations on the Moon by observing the gas as it escapes from the Moon’s surface. Radon, a noble gas, is possible proof that the moon came from the earth.

Chang’e 6 will also sport a laser retrorereflector, a device that reflects concentrated light, from the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics-Frascati National Labs. The device is designed to measure the distance between the earth and the moon.

That Negative ions at the Lunar Surface Instrumentwhich will also be used by the Chang’e 6 lander measure solar wind that reflect from the lunar surface upon reaching the moon. This instrument is being developed by the Swedish Institute for Space Physics.

The ICUBE-Q Cubesat from Pakistan is comes as well with you on the ride, and it’s designed to pick up traces of waterice on the surface of the moon.

Along with its payloads, Chang’e 6 is gearing up for an even more challenging mission than its predecessors. The lander targets the moon’s South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin, a massive impact crater that may be one of the oldest on the moon. The lander will collect samples from the basin and place them in an ascent vehicle that will be launched into lunar orbit. The vehicle then docks with an orbiter, which places the samples in a capsule bound for Earth. If successful, the mission will be the first to bring back surface samples from the far side of the moon.

China is making progress with its space program, a good portion of which focuses on building a base on the moon. The Chinese space agency already has plans for Chang’e 7 and 8, which will focus on testing technologies necessary to build a lunar science base.

It will be interesting to see how China’s plans compare to NASA’s own Artemis program, which it does search to build a base for astronauts on the moon.

More: The Chinese rocket stage is now a cloud of orbital debris after dissipating in space

https://gizmodo.com/china-change-6-moon-mission-international-payloads-1849916964 China’s Chang’e 6 Moon Mission Adds 4 International Payloads

Zack Zwiezen

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