China’s Chang’e-6 lander/ascender in far side sampling scenery. Image taken by deployed Wi-Fi-toting mini-rover.
Image credit: CNSA/CLEP

China’s Chang’e-6 Moon sampling mission is set to return to Earth, loaded with its cache of far side specimens.

According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the mission’s orbiter/returner will circle the Moon for a projected 14 days before departure to Earth.

The combination will make one to three orbital adjustments over a five day period.

Cruising into position around 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the Earth, the returner segment will separate from the orbiter and start the phase of re-entering the atmosphere and returning to Earth.

Chang’e-6 scooping operation on Moon’s far side.
Image credit: CNSA/CLEP

Chang’e-6 drilling into lunar far side landscape.
Image credit: CNSA/CLEP

Parachute landing

The returner, carrying lunar samples collected in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, will touch down at a planned landing area at Siziwang Banner in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

That re-entry is projected to take place on June 25 (Beijing Time), according to informed sources.

Parachuting into the area will mark the end of Chang’e-6’s 53-day, to the Moon and back sampling mission.

Far side scenery taken by Chang’e-6 lander/ascender.
Image credit: CNSA/CLEP

Taking the heat as it maneuvers ever-deeper into Earth’s atmosphere before parachute touchdown.
Image credit: CNSA/CCTV

Stable status

“At present, the overall status of the Chang’e-6 is very stable,” Hao Dagong, an engineer at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center told China Central Television (CCTV).

The orbiter-returner combination will separate from the ascender, undergo trans-Earth injection, enter Moon-Earth transfer orbit, Hao said, then re-enter the atmosphere with recovery teams retrieving the sample-loaded capsule.



As the orbiter-returner circuits the Moon, it signals the second time China has achieved a probe rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit. China’s Chang’e-5 mission performed this scenario back in December 2020.

Fresh samples from the Moon delivered by China’s Chang’e-5 return capsule.
Image credit: Xinhua News Video/Inside Outer Space screengrab



Chang’e-6 departed from China’s sprawling spaceport situated in south Hainan Province on May 3, assigned the task of snagging and bagging the first-ever lunar samples from the far side of the Moon.

Leave a Reply