Thursday, June 06, 2024

China Chang'e-6 Lunar Orbit Docking with Far Side Moon Samples Completed

China Chang'e-6 Lunar Orbit Docking with Far Side Moon Samples Completed

The ascender of China's Chang'e-6 probe successfully rendezvoused and docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit at 14:48 Beijing time on Thursday, June 6, 2024, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced.

Shortly after the docking procedure, the container carrying the lunar samples collected on the far side of the Moon was safely transferred from the ascender to the returner at 15:24, said the CNSA.

This is the second time China has achieved a probe rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit following the success of the Chang'e-5 mission back in December 2020.

Launched from south China's Hainan Province on May 3, 2024, the Chang'e-6 mission set out to retrieve the first-ever lunar samples from the far side of the Moon, making it a groundbreaking accomplishment in the history of human lunar exploration.

The probe's lander-ascender combination safely touched down at its designated landing area in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin on Sunday, June 2. After it completed its collection of lunar samples on Sunday and Monday, the probe blasting off from the lunar surface with the precious cargo on Tuesday morning.

After re-uniting with the orbiter and completing the sample transfer on Thursday, the combination will now continue to orbit the Moon while awaiting the optimal time to start its return journey back to Earth.

The probe's returner, carrying the samples, will make its planned touchdown in the Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to the CNSA.

In 2020, Chang'e-5 was the first lunar sample-return mission since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976. The mission made China the third country to return samples from the Moon after the United States and the Soviet Union.

Video Credit: CCTV Video News Agency

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Release Date: June 6, 2024

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