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Chang'e 6



Chang'e 6 is a lunar lander and sample return mission that landed on the far side of the Moon within the South Pole Aitken Basin. It launched on May 3, 2024 at 09:27 UT (5:27 p.m. Beijing Time), on a Long March 5 booster from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The mission has essentially the same architecture as Chang'e 5, with some changes in the payload. The spacecraft has a total mass of approximately 8200 kg. It comprises four modules: an orbiter, return vehicle, lander, and ascender. The four vehicle combination is designed to go into lunar orbit, where the lander-ascender combination separate and drop to land on the surface. Landed mass is approximately 3200 kg. Samples are collected and put in a container in the ascender, which lifts off to rendezvous with the orbiter-return vehicle combination. It then deposits the container in the orbiter-return vehicle, which brings the samples back to Earth, the return capsule separating and reentering the Earth's atmosphere and landing with the samples.

Propulsion for braking into lunar orbit is provided by a 3000 N rocket. Power is provided by solar panels. Chang'e 5 carries a robotic arm with a sampling scoop, a coring drill, and a sample chamber. The ascender vehicle uses a 3000 N thrust booster to lift off from the lunar surface. Chang'e 6 will have landing and survey cameras, and carries an instrument from France, Detection of Outgassing RadoN (DORN), as well as Negative Ions at the Lunar Surface (NILS), contributed by Sweden and ESA. A laser retroreflector (INRRI) from Italy and the ICUBE-Q cubesat from Pakistan will also be on the mission. A small rover was also included.

Mission Profile

Chang'e 6 reached the Moon and went into a 200 x 380,000 km altitude lunar orbit on May 8 at 02:21 UT. It slowly circularized the orbit over time. It also released the ICUBE-Q cubesat into lunar orbit on May 8. Chang'e 6 orbited for 20 days to find an appropriate landing site. The lander then separated from the orbiter. After a roughly 15 minute landing sequence, landing took place on June 1 at 22:23 UT (6:23 a.m. Beijing time, June 2) in the southern part of the Apollo crater, at estimated coordinates 41.6382 S, 153.9846 W. The solar panels, antenna, and science experiments were deployed. Communications were established via the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, enabling communications from the lunar far side after landing.

The mission objective is to collect about 2 kg of material from the far side of the Moon and bring it back to Earth. A scoop and drill were used in order to obtain samples from the surface and from as deep as 2 meters below the surface. The samples were placed in the ascent vehicle, which was mounted on top of the lander. The ascent vehicle launched from the Moon on June 3 at 23:38 UT (7:38 a.m. Beijing time, June 4), bringing the samples to lunar orbit. There the ascender docked with the Chang'e 6 orbiter-return vehicle at 06:48 UT on June 6, and transferred the samples into the return vehicle by 07:24 UT. The ascender will be released to impact the lunar surface at some point, and the orbiter-return vehicle will leave orbit about June 21-22. The samples will be brought back to Earth, roughly by June 25. Landing is expected to occur in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Total planned mission time is 53 days. A small rover was also deployed, which drove a short distance on the lunar surface and took pictures of the Chang'e 6 lander.

Image credit: CNSA

Alternate Names

  • Change6

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2024-05-03
Launch Vehicle: Long March 5
Launch Site: Wenchang, Peoples Republic of China
Mass: 8200 kg

Funding Agency

  • China National Space Administration (Peoples Republic of China)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



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