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China’s Chang’e-6 Lunar Probe Soft Landed on Moon’s Far Side & Takes Off With 1st Samples From Lunar Far Side

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China's Chang'e-6 lunar probe lands on far side of Moon for unprecedented sampling missionOn 2nd June 2024, the China National Space Administration’s (CNSA) Chang’e-6 lunar probe made a soft landing on the moon’s far side to collect and return samples from the rarely explored far side of the moon, a first of its kind in human lunar exploration history.

  • Chang’e-6 with the support of the Queqiao-2 relay satellite landed in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, specifically the Apollo Basin crater, chosen for its scientific value and favourable landing conditions.


i.China is the only country to achieve a soft landing on the far side of the moon and Chang’e 6 is a robotic, not crewed, mission.

ii.This is the CNSA’s 2nd lunar landing on the moon’s far side. In 2019, the Chang’e 4 mission dropped a lander-rover combo onto the hidden lunar hemisphere.

iii.The Chang’e-6 probe spacecraft was launched on 3 May 2024, from its launchpad at the Wenchang Space Launch Site in South China’s Hainan province.


The mission aims to achieve breakthroughs in retrograde orbit design, intelligent and rapid sampling, and takeoff/ascent from the moon’s far side.

Key Points:

i.The Chang’e-6 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner

ii.The lander-ascender combination used advanced technologies like visual obstacle avoidance, laser 3D scanning, and variable thrust engines for a safe and precise landing.

iii.The lander was equipped with various sensors and a robotic arm to collect subsurface and surface samples within 2 days.

iii.To improve efficiency, the sampling process has been made more intelligent, allowing the probe to execute instructions autonomously and reduce the Earth-moon interactions.

Taking off of Chang’e-6 Lunar Probe:

On 4 June 2024, the ascender of the Chang’e-6 probe successfully lifted off from the lunar surface, carrying rock and soil samples collected from the moon’s far side. The ascender has entered a preset orbit around the moon after a 6-minute engine burn.

  • After finishing the intelligent and rapid sampling work, the samples were stored in a container inside the ascender of the probe as planned.

Note: A Chinese national flag was unfolded on the far side of the moon for the 1st time after sampling.

Key Points:

i.The lander performed scientific explorations with multiple payloads, analysing lunar soil structure and material composition.

ii.The ascender’s takeoff and ascent involved enhanced autonomy and reliability in navigation, guidance, and control systems to overcome challenges posed by the far side.

iii.The ascender is expected to carry out unmanned rendezvous and dock with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit to transfer the samples to the returner module.

iv.The returner will eventually re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, aiming for a landing in Siziwang Banner, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, with the lunar samples.