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China to launch Chang'e-6 Friday afternoon


 , Updated 15:53, 03-May-2024

The Chang'e-6 lunar probe is scheduled to be launched between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday, with the preferred launch window targeted at 5:27 p.m., said the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The Chang'e-6 mission is tasked with collecting and returning samples from the moon's mysterious far side, the first endeavor of its kind in human history.

The Long March-5 Y8 carrier rocket is being fueled up with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen cryogenic propellant, the CNSA added.

The mission involves 11 phases, according to Lu Yuntong, a member of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

"First, the probe takes a ride on the Long March-5 Y8 carrier rocket to be launched into orbit, then begins its journey towards the moon. Upon reaching the vicinity of the moon, we will apply brakes to send the probe into lunar orbit, where the entire probe flies around in a circumlunar orbit. During this flight, the combination of the lander and ascender will land on the far side of the moon," he said.

"After completing the sampling, the ascender will take off from the far side of the moon, rendezvous and dock with the orbiter-returner combination, and transfer the samples to the returner. Then it returns to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere in a semi-ballistic skip manner, and lands at our country's designated landing site in Siziwang Banner," Lu said.

The Chang'e-6 mission will follow the collection method of Chang'e-5, drilling for subsurface samples and scooping for surface samples, to obtain samples from different depths, while simultaneously carrying out scientific exploration on the far side of the moon.

"The South Pole-Aitken basin is one of the three terrains and the oldest and largest crater on the moon, holding significant scientific research value. The Chang'e-6 mission will carry out on-the-spot investigation and analysis at the landing area on the far side of the moon, collecting samples that could enable researchers to analyze the structure, physical characteristics, and material composition of lunar soil in different regions and ages in the laboratory," said Hu Zhenyu, head of the engineering and technical team of the launch site of Chang'e-6 mission project. 

Hu said that the Chang'e-6 mission is of great significance for humanity's comprehensive understanding of the moon, deepening research on the moon's origin and evolution, planetary evolution, and the origins of the Solar System.

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