China plans to launch a mission in 2024 to collect samples from the far side of the Moon and bring them back to Earth for study. This will be the first such mission in history, it is planned to use the Chang'e 6 autonomous interplanetary station for its implementation.
Wu Yanhua, chief designer of China's Deep Space Exploration Major Project, said four spacecraft will be launched into space by the Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Space Station in May 2024. Chang'e 6's mission will last 53 days, during which it will take the instruments to the far side of the Moon, which is located in the southern part of a huge crater called the Apollo Basin. There, the equipment will collect a 2 kg sample of lunar soil, which will then be brought back to Earth.
Before Chang'e 6 launches, China plans to send a Queqiao satellite to the moon to help maintaint the communication between the station and teams on Earth.
The Apollo Basin is located in the vast South Pole-Aitken Basin (SPA), a huge ancient crater 2.5 km in diameter and covering almost a quarter of the Moon's far side. Scientists believe that as a result of the collision with the SPA, material that was previously in the Moon's crust appeared on the surface of the Moon. The researchers expect that the study of these samples should be the key to unraveling the history of the development of the Moon and the Solar System.
China first brought a soil sample from the Moon in 2020 during the Chang'e 5 mission. It was the first time in more than 40 years that lunar material was delivered to Earth. The samples were collected from the Ocean of Storms on the visible side of the Moon.
China plans to carry out the Chang'e7 and Chang'e 8 missions in 2026 and 2028 with details to be unveiled later.