China’s Chang’e-6 moon probe stands by for launch as space race with US heats up | Space

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Wenchang/Hong Kong

China is scheduled to launch an uncrewed lunar mission Friday that aims to bring back samples from the far side of the moon for the first time, in a potentially major step forward for the country’s ambitious space program.

The Chang’e-6 probe – China’s most complex robotic lunar mission to date – marks a key milestone in the country’s push to become a dominant space power with plans to land astronauts on the moon by 2030 and build a research base on its south pole.

The expected launch of the probe on a Long March-5 rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan island comes as a growing number of countries, including the United States, eye the strategic and scientific benefits of expanded lunar exploration in an increasingly competitive field.

China’s planned 53-day mission would see the Chang’e-6 lander touch down in a gaping crater on the moon’s far side, which never faces Earth. China became the first and only country to land on the moon’s far side during its 2019 Chang’e-4 mission…


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