Chang'e-8 mission planned for launch around 2028, to form basic structure of a lunar research station with Chang'e-7
Published: Oct 03, 2023 01:31 PM
A graphic simulation shows the orbiter and returner combination of China's Chang'e-5 probe after its separation from the ascender.Photo: China National Space Administration

A graphic simulation shows the orbiter and returner combination of China's Chang'e-5 probe after its separation from the ascender. Photo: China National Space Administration

China's lunar exploration mission, Chang'e-8, is planned for launch around 2028 and will join Chang'e-7 to form the basic structure of a lunar research station, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced international cooperation opportunities linked to the Chang'e-8 mission during the 74th International Astronautical Congress on Monday. 

The Chang'e-8 mission aims to explore and research multiple lunar physical fields, regional geological profiles, lunar-based Earth observations and research, in-situ lunar sample analysis and resource utilization, and small, enclosed terrestrial ecosystems on the lunar surface, the Paper reported on Tuesday. 

It will form the basic structure of a lunar research station together with Chang'e-7, etc, according to the Paper.  

China's lunar exploration project adheres to the principles of "equality, mutual benefit, peaceful use, and win-win cooperation" and is open to the international community. The CNSA welcomes countries and international organizations to participate, engage in mission-level, system-level, and unit-level cooperation, jointly achieve significant new scientific discoveries, and contribute to the construction of a shared future for humanity.

International cooperation for the Chang'e-8 mission will prioritize tasks involving spacecraft-to-spacecraft "interactions," joint exploration, lunar surface robots with basic operational capabilities, complementary scientific payloads, and innovative scientific cooperation projects. 

Chang'e-8's lander offers 200 kilograms of payload resources, with an independent module mass of no more than 100 kilograms, which can be used for system-level and unit-level cooperation projects. The deadline for submitting letters of intent for international cooperation projects for the Chang'e-8 mission is December 31, 2023. Preliminary selection is scheduled to be completed in April 2024, with final selection confirmation in September of the same year.

In addition to Chang'e-8, China's lunar exploration program includes Chang'e-7, which is planned for launch around 2026 with a primary mission of searching for evidence of lunar water in the lunar south pole region, according to the Paper.

The Chang'e-6 lunar mission, which aims to collect samples from the lunar far side, is also progressing according to schedule and is set for launch around 2024. 

This mission will explore the relatively older lunar terrain of the lunar far side, including the Aitken Basin, one of the Moon's three major basins, making it scientifically valuable. The preliminary landing area for Chang'e-6 is located in the lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin region. To enhance international cooperation, Chang'e-6 will carry payloads and satellite projects from countries and regions including France, the European Space Agency, Italy, and Pakistan.

Global Times