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Carrier rocket for China's Chang'e-6 lunar probe arrives at launch site

By Zhao Lei | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-03-15 17:54

The Long March 5 heavy-lift carrier rocket tasked with launching the Chang'e 6 lunar probe arrived in the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province on Friday, according to the China National Space Administration.

Next, the rocket will be assembled and then undergo ground tests with the Chang'e 6 at the coastal launch complex, the administration said in a brief statement, adding that preparation work for the coming mission is underway at the center.

According to information previously published by the agency, the Chang'e 6 mission is scheduled to take place in the first half of this year.

The Chang'e 6 spacecraft will consist of four components — orbiter, lander, ascender and re-entry module.

If everything goes according to plan, the robotic probe will touch down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the moon to collect dust and rock samples. If the mission succeeds, it will be the first time that samples have been obtained from the moon's far side, most of which is never visible from Earth.

To facilitate communications between the Chang'e 6 and Earth, a new relay satellite named Queqiao 2 is set to be deployed in a lunar orbit in coming months.

So far, only China's Chang'e 4 probe has ever landed on the far side of the moon. The probe touched down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin in January 2019 and deployed the Yutu 2 rover to explore around the landing site.

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