Space China: Chang'e-6 will leave 10kg for foreign payloads
By Gong Zhe
The Chinese space program is speeding up and closing the gap with the US inch by inch.
But now it's getting even faster as a government official in charge of the program announced on Monday that the Chang'e-6 moon lander, which is two generations ahead of the current Chang'e-4, will be so large that it can provide 10 kilograms of weight for foreign payloads.
The announcement was made by Zhang Kejian, administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), at the International Astronautical Congress in Germany.
Zhang also reaffirmed that the Chang'e-4 will launch on its mission to the far side of the moon in December 2018.
This lander will carry payloads from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.
10 kilograms may not sound like much, but that's five times the weight Chang'e-5 is designed to carry. The fifth-gen lander will sample two kilograms of moon soil and bring it to Earth.
A relay satellite was put in orbit in May 2018 for the launch of the three future Chang'e landers.
The contest to name the Chang'e-4 has entered the second round, and only 10 names remain.