China’s Chang’e-6 Mission Successful

The probe has delivered to Earth samples with regolith taken from the back side of the Moon

China achieved another success in the space race with the completion of the Chang’e-6 mission. Launched on May 3, 2024, the probe reached the Moon on June 2, conducting sampling, and landed in Siziwang on June 25, in Inner Mongolia. This is the first mission ever to bring rock samples collected on the back side of the Moon to Earth. A total of about two kilograms of regolith was recovered from Apollo Crater, within the South Pole-Eitker Basin.

China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) declared the mission a “complete success.” Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated the scientists and called for thorough studying of lunar samples, the continuation of the country’s major space projects, including deep space exploration, and the expansion of international exchanges and cooperation.

Xi Jinping said, according to Xinhua News Agency, that the mission will be able to contribute to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, promoting the well-being of mankind, building a great country, and promoting national rejuvenation on all fronts through China’s modernization.

“Some samples will be kept permanently, and another part will be kept elsewhere as a disaster copy. Then we will prepare the remaining part and distribute it to scientists in China and abroad, in accordance with the rules for handling lunar samples,” said the Chang’e-6 project leader.

The previous Chang’e-5 mission has already delivered rock samples from the satellite to Earth. This time the mission was more challenging because direct communication on the back side of the Moon is impossible.

“The Chang’e-6 mission represents a milestone in the history of human lunar exploration and will contribute to fuller understanding of lunar evolution,” said Yang Wei, a researcher at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Next missions include landing a moon rover, a lunar lander, and a manned mission around 2029.