Chang'e 6 (Chinese: 嫦娥六号; pinyin: Cháng'é liùhào) is a planned robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission expected to be launched in 2023 or 2024 and perform China's second sample return mission. Like its predecessors, the spacecraft is named after the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e.
|Mission type||Surface sample return|
|Launch mass||3,780 kg (8,330 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||2023 or 2024|
|Rocket||Chang Zheng 5|
The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program is designed to be conducted in three phases of incremental technological advancement: The first is simply reaching lunar orbit, a task completed by Chang'e 1 in 2007 and Chang'e 2 in 2010. The second is landing and roving on the Moon, as Chang'e 3 did in 2013 and Chang'e 4 in 2019. The third phase is collecting lunar samples from the near-side and sending them to the Earth, a task for the future Chang'e 5 and its backup Chang'e 6 mission. The program aims to facilitate a crewed lunar landing in the 2030s and possibly build an outpost near the lunar south pole.
Chang'e 6 is a copy and backup of Chang'e 5. The mission is reported to consist of four modules: the lander will collect about 2 kg (4.4 lb) of samples from 2 metres (6.6 ft) below the surface and place them in an attached ascent vehicle to be launched into lunar orbit. The ascent vehicle will then make an automatic rendezvous and docking with an orbiter that will transfer the samples into a sample-return capsule for their delivery to Earth. The estimated launch mass is 3,780 kg (8,330 lb), the lander is projected to be 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) and the ascent vehicle is about 120 kg (260 lb).
In October 2018, Chinese officials announced that they will call for international partners to propose an additional payload up to 10 kg (22 lb) to be included in this mission.
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