Guide on how to watch China’s Chang’e-6 moon launch

China is about to launch its Chang’e-6 mission to the far side of the moon, aiming to retrieve a sample from a part of the moon that has never been seen from Earth. This mission will be the first in history to achieve this feat and provide valuable information about the origin and evolution of the Earth-Moon system. Chang’e-6, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is expected to launch on Friday from the Wenchang space site in southern China.

Chang’e-6 is part of a series of Chinese lunar missions, following the successful Chang’e-4 in 2019 and Chang’e-5 in 2020. The mission will take about a month to reach the far side of the moon, where an orbiter will circle around it while the lander collects soil samples using a mechanical arm and drill. The collected material is then transferred to the orbiter’s re-entry module for a safe return to Earth. The mission aims to investigate the differences between the near and far sides of the moon and collect samples from the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

China’s lunar exploration program is part of its broader space exploration goals, which also include missions to Mars and future visits to asteroids. The Chang’e mission series, which began in the 1990s, has a 100 percent success rate to date. Future missions, such as Chang’e-7 and Chang’e-8, are already in development. Chang’e-7, expected to launch in 2026, will search for water at the moon’s south pole, while Chang’e-8 will explore material for potential future infrastructure.

One of the challenges of exploring the far side of the moon is the lack of direct communication with Earth, because the same side of the moon always faces us. To address this problem, China has deployed satellites like Queqiao and Queqiao-2 to send information from missions on the other side back to Earth. These satellites will play a crucial role in maintaining communications with Chang’e-6 during the sample collection process. The mission aims to discover more about the moon’s interior and its geological history by extracting material from the moon’s mantle.

The far side of the moon is an intriguing area for scientific research because of its special geology and history. Although the United States, the former Soviet Union and China have taken samples from the moon’s near side, the far side remains largely unexplored. By collecting material from the South Pole-Aitken Basin, scientists hope to gain insight into the formation and evolution of the moon. The impact that created this basin is believed to have exposed material from the moon’s mantle, providing valuable information about the moon’s internal structure.

China plans to send manned missions to the moon by 2030 and aims to establish a permanent, international lunar research base in the 2030s. These ambitious goals reflect China’s growing presence in space exploration and its commitment to advancing scientific knowledge of the moon and beyond. The success of the Chang’e-6 mission will provide crucial data for our understanding of the moon and its role in the broader solar system, paving the way for future exploration and discoveries.