China’s Chang’e makes history with successful lunar probe launch

China has once again made history by becoming the only country to land on the moon’s far side twice, and the first to collect lunar soil from this remote region. This “historic” and “remarkable” achievement signifies not only a technological breakthrough for China but also an important advancement in human lunar exploration.

China’s Chang’e 6 robotic probe achieved a historic milestone on Tuesday, completing the most critical phase of its lunar mission.

The successful return of the ascender to lunar orbit underscores China’s growing prowess in space technology and its commitment to pushing the boundaries of lunar research, further solidifying its position as a leader in space exploration. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) had emphasized the mission’s numerous engineering innovations, high risks, and immense difficulties.

The Chang’e 6 mission was indeed fraught with risks, given the rugged terrain of the moon’s far side. The South Pole-Aitken Basin, the chosen landing site, presented a particularly challenging environment with its lower terrain and numerous impact craters, which made lighting and measurement difficult. Despite these obstacles, China successfully landed the Chang’e 6 probe and collected valuable lunar samples, marking a significant milestone in space exploration.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China’s ambitious lunar exploration project. Reflecting on the past two decades, it’s evident that these years have been pivotal in China’s aerospace history. From the pioneering Chang’e-1 to the groundbreaking Chang’e-6, China’s journey has evolved from initial lunar exploration to detailed surveys, from lunar surface observation to far side exploration, and from remote sensing to returning with samples.

Having accomplished the three-step plan of “orbiting, landing, and returning,” China’s lunar exploration is now advancing toward new and more challenging goals. The fourth phase of the lunar exploration project not only aims to continue sampling from the moon’s far side and returning with those samples but also to achieve a historic landing on the lunar south pole and execute moon leaps. China is now poised to achieve manned lunar landings before 2030 and complete the construction of an integrated international lunar research station by 2040. These milestones underscore China’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration and establishing a leading role in the global space community.

The Chang’e-6 lander, carrying international payloads, exemplifies China’s collaborative approach to lunar exploration. The European Space Agency’s Negative Ions on Lunar Surface (NILS) and France’s lunar radon detector both operated smoothly, conducting vital scientific tasks. The French detector functioned effectively during the Earth-moon transfer, lunar orbit, and lunar surface stages, while the ESA’s analyzer performed during the lunar surface stage. Additionally, an Italian laser retroreflector mounted on the lander serves as a crucial position control point for distance measurements on the moon’s far side, underscoring the international cooperation driving this mission’s success.

As Chang’e shares the moon’s beauty from thousands of miles away, it vividly demonstrates the spirit of global unity and cooperation in our celestial endeavors.

Following its successful sample-retrieval mission, Chang’e-6 proudly displayed China’s national flag on the moon’s far side. This flag symbolizes not only China’s national pride but also the shared aspirations of all humankind. The Chang’e mission, representing both China and the world, illustrating the concept of a shared future for humanity in space. This emblem symbolizes not only China’s national pride but also the collective aspirations of all humanity.

“Chang’e” represents a vision that transcends borders, belonging to everyone. By sharing the beauty of the moon with the world, China vividly illustrates the concept of building a global community with a shared future in outer space. This mission is a testament to our interconnectedness and common dreams. This achievement not only highlights China’s growing capabilities in aerospace technology but also contributes a crucial piece to the puzzle of human lunar exploration, inspiring future missions and international collaboration.