Chang’e 6 spacecraft docks in lunar orbit with lunar samples

An animation shows the docking of Chang’e 6 ascender module with the combination of the orbiter and the re-entry module
An animation shows the docking of Chang’e 6 ascender module (right) with the combination of the orbiter and the re-entry module. (Image credit: CNSA)

China’s Chang’e 6 sample-return spacecraft is one step closer to returning far side lunar samples, as the ascender module of the spacecraft brought the lunar samples to the lunar orbit and docked with the combination of the orbiter and the re-entry module.

Chang’e 6 spacecraft landed within the Apollo crater of the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin on the far side of the moon at 22:23 UTC on June 1, 2024.

The spacecraft collected lunar samples from June 2 to 3, as planned. After the successful sample collection, an ascent vehicle (ascender rocket) was launched from the lunar surface at 23:38 UTC on June 3.

This ascent vehicle of the spacecraft met with the combination of the orbiter and the re-entry module at 06:48 UTC on June 6, 2024, in the lunar orbit and safely transferred the lunar sample container to the re-entry module at 07:24 UTC on June 6, 2024, according to the Chinese space agency CNSA.

If everything goes according to plan, then the re-entry module will bring the samples back to earth from lunar orbit around June 25 and will land at the Siziwangqi space landing site in Inner Mongolia.

It is the second time that a Chinese spacecraft has achieved successful docking in the lunar orbit after the agency’s Chang’e 5 spacecraft. Chang’e 5 brought back lunar samples from the near side of the moon in 2020.

After successful completion of the mission, Chang’e 6 will become the first sample-return spacecraft from the far side of the moon. No other country has achieved this feat so far.

There is no doubt that China has achieved remarkable success in its lunar exploration program in a very short period of time. China aims to send its first astronaut to the lunar surface by 2030. China’s moon missions so far are summarized below.

Mission NameLaunch DateMission TypeObjectivesMission Status
Chang’e 1October 24, 2007 OrbiterObtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface and map the abundance of chemical elements on the lunar surfaceSuccessful
Chang’e 2October 1, 2010OrbiterObtain high-resolution images of the lunar surface to help in selecting future landing sites and a key test for soft landing on the moon Successful
Chang’e 3December 1, 2013 Lander and RoverAchieve first soft landing on the lunar surface and exploration with the Yutu rover Successful
Chang’e 4December 7, 2018Lander and RoverAchieve first soft landing on the far side of the moon and exploration with the Yutu-2 roverSuccessful
Chang’e 5November 23, 2020Sample-return missionCollect lunar samples and bring them back to Earth Successful
Chang’e 6May 3, 2024Far side sample-return mission Collect lunar samples from the far side of the moon and bring them back to Earth Ongoing

Please bookmark Spaceandtelescope.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get latest space news, upcoming skywatching events and astronomy-related content.

Photo of author

About the Author

Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

Related Articles

Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot, as seen from NASA's Juno spacecraft in 2018

Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot likely formed 190 years ago

FacebookTweetPinShares The iconic Great Red Spot (GRS), an earth-sized storm on Jupiter, is only 190 ...

NASA’s Perseverance rover captures the view of 'Bright Angel' on Mars

NASA’s rover on Mars reaches a new area called ‘Bright Angel’

FacebookTweetPinShares NASA’s Perseverance rover reached a new area on Mars on June 9, 2024, which ...

NASA’s LRO spots China's Chang'e 6 spacecraft on the far side of the moon

NASA’s moon orbiter spots China’s Chang’e 6 sample-return spacecraft

FacebookTweetPinShares NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spotted China’s Chang’e 6 sample-return spacecraft on the far ...

An artist’s illustration of the Voyager spacecraft currently exploring interstellar space

Voyager 1 back to normal operations as all four instruments working 

FacebookTweetPinShares NASA’s iconic Voyager 1 spacecraft is back to its normal science operations for the ...

Leave a Comment