Credit: IAF


Space officials from numbers of nations have gathered in Beijing for the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) 2017.

The three-day GLEX 2017 conference, running from June 6-8, will cover an array of topics such as space station development, exploration of the Moon, Mars and near-Earth asteroids  and international cooperation. The meeting involves over a thousand delegates from 51 countries.

According to China’s CCTV, Chinese space officials detailed the latest on the upcoming Chang’e-5 and Chang’e-4 lunar probe missions.


Return sample

Drawing purportedly shows China’s Chang’e-5 – a robotic Moon lander and sampling craft to be launched in 2017.
Courtesy: China Space website posting

China is set to launch its Chang’e-5 lunar probe at the end of November this year, departing from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province. This ambitious lunar sampling mission is to be hurled moonward atop a Long March-5 booster.

Chang’e-5 is China’s first automated lunar surface sampling, first Moon surface take-off, first automatic docking in lunar orbit, and first return flight at a speed close to the “second cosmic velocity,” according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

Far side landing

At the GLEX gathering, Liu Jizhong, director of Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the Chinese Society of Astronautics reported on the Chang’e-4 lunar mission. It will attempt a pioneering first to touchdown on the far side of the Moon.

The lunar far side as imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter using its LROC Wide Angle Camera.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

“We will begin in the third quarter of this year building the protocol of the probe proper and its flight mission is scheduled for next year,” said Liu.

Jan Woerner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) expressed the wish to invite the global space community to join a cooperative Moon Village concept.

Station core module

Meanwhile, as reported by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, China will carry out at least four piloted spaceflight missions over about five years to build a space station.

China’s medium-size space station for the 2020’s is depicted in this artwork.
Credit: CNSA

China’s first astronaut, Yang Liwei, detailed the plan at GLEX. Yang is deputy director of China’s manned space program office.

Yang said that two piloted space missions will be conducted in 2020. China plans to complete the building of the space station by around 2022, aiming to carry out about a dozen launch missions beforehand, Yang said. He noted that China would launch the first core module of the space station in 2019, followed by launches of two experiment modules.

The space station will enable astronauts to stay in the space for three months to half a year, Yang added. Astronauts are currently preparing for the space station program he said, and that China will start the selection of new astronauts this year.

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