China Lunar Plans Focused on South Pole

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

China’s aggressive long-range program explore the moon includes a heavy focus on the south pole where probes have detected water.

China’s Chang’e-4 mission is currently exploring the moon with a rover and lander on the far side. The vehicles are communicating with Earth via an orbiting spacecraft. The Chang’e-4 mission also includes two lunar CubeSats, one of which is still operational.

China plans to launch the Chang’e-5 mission by the end of 2018 to bring back soil samples from the lunar surface. The plan is to bring back at least 2 kg (4.4 lb) of soil from the Mons Rümker region in the northwest section of the moon.

Xinhua reports there are three other moon missions planned in the years ahead:

  • Chang’e-7, set for launch in 2023, will carry out comprehensive surveys of the south pole;
  • Chang’e-6, scheduled to be launched in 2024, will bring back samples from the lunar south pole; and,
  • Chang’e-8, scheduled for launch in 2027, will test technologies to lay the ground work for a research base on the lunar surface.

China expects to conduct crewed missions to a lunar base sometime during the 2030’s.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Hardly ‘aggressive’. No government program since the U.S. / Soviet space race can be considered in those terms and the only program that can be now is the private undertaking of SpaceX.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    “China plans to launch the Chang’e-5 mission by the end of 2018 to bring back soil samples”

    Impressive…not the moon rocks…but the time machine the China possesses.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    I think the rover crapped out early on, hence not a single new pic from it. Chinese will say it crapped out eventually, but until that time, will lead people ti thinking that everything is going great.
    One of the best pics, would be of the rover taking a pic of the lander from a distance…which it has yet to do….cause it’s dead.

  • Paul_Scutts

    I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it is as you say, Smokey, both Chinese rovers have looked way too fragile to me. The wheels alone should be at least half the height of the rover and the motors driving them should be scaled up accordingly. “Made In China”. 🙂 Regards, Paul.

  • Saturn1300

    So, USA or Russia will not give them a sample. They will get their own. Interesting to them, not so much to anyone else. Same old Stardust.

  • Saturn1300

    Do you mean a mile away? They have pictures of it closer. The video of it moving is neat. It did wake up they said. This was for the heat. I want to see it wake up at dawn from the cold. +400 to -400. I don’t think my 4″ Chinese Pocket PC, GPS, Wireless, WiFi $39 instead of $500 I-Pad could take that. I will get WalMart the next time there is no Bar-code. Hey Google how much does those avocados cost. Free WiFi.

  • nathankoren

    Nice conspiracy theory. In the meantime, “Made in China” just landed on the far side of the moon and started growing crops there. I’d say their brand is doing okay.

  • duheagle

    There’s such a picture in this story from Spaceflight Now.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Yeah, I’ve seen that one. Its a cool pic, but I want to see one from a distance, that one is like 30 feet away, which we know the rover traveled, early on.
    I don’t expect to see one further away then that pic…because it’s dead.

  • duheagle

    Could be that future pics from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will settle this issue.