Future Chinese Lunar Missions

The information available on these missions is somewhat limited and does not all come from official sources. The descriptions represent a somewhat speculative outline of the missions and will probably change as more information becomes available.

Chang'e 4 - Farside Lander and Rover

Launch: December 2018

The Chang'e 4 mission is a planned Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) lander to the far side of the Moon, scheduled for launch from Xichang, China, in December 2018. The planned landing site is in Von Karman crater in the northwestern South Pole - Aitken Basin (45-46 S latitude, 176.4-178.8 E longitude. The Chang'e 4 lander was a backup to the Chang'e 3 mission, so it will have the same basic structure, a landing platform and a rover. A different scientific payload is being planned.

The lander will be very similar to the Chang'e-3 lander design, carrying its own experiments and the rover. The experiments include a low-frequency spectrometer (LFS), a Landing Camera (LCAM), Terrain Camera (TCAM), and Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry Experiment (LND).

It will include a rover based on the Chang'e 3 rover. The rover, with a total mass of 140 kg, has a rectangular body 1.1 meters high, 1.5 m long, and 1 m wide, but unlike the Chang'e-3 rover will not have a robotic arm. It has 6 wheels, two solar panels, and a dish antenna. Its scientific payload will have cameras, including a Panoramic Camera (PCAM), a Visible/Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR), and the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN). Chang'e 3 had a lander mass of about 1200 kg and the rover mass was 140 kg.

It will use a communication relay satellite, based on the Chang'e 2 design, in a halo orbit around the Earth-Moon L2 point to maintain communication between the lander and Earth ground control. The satellite, Queqiao , launched on 20 May 2018 to enable communication with the far side. Two scientific microsatellites, Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2, were launched with Queqiao.

Chang'e 5 - Sample Return

Launch: 2019

Chang'e 5 is a Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) lunar sample return mission has been rescheduled to launch in 2019. The mission goal is to land in the Mons Rumker region and return a 2 kg sample of lunar regolith, possibly from as deep as 2 meters. The mission is reported to consist of four modules. Two of the modules will land on the Moon, one designed to collect samples and transfer them to the second module, designed to ascend from the lunar surface into orbit, where it will dock with a third module. Finally the samples will be transferred to the fourth module, also in lunar orbit, which will return them to Earth. The spacecraft carries a Panoramic Camera (PCAM), Lunar Regolith Penetrating Radar (LRPR), and the Lunar Mineralogical Spectrometer (LMS).

The Chang'e 5-T1, launched in 2014, was a test flight to validate the atmospheric re-entry design of the sample return capsule.

Past Missions

Chang'e 1 - 2007 - Lunar Orbiter
Chang'e 2 - 2010 - Lunar Orbiter
Chang'e 3 - 2013 - Lunar Lander
Yutu - 2013 - Lunar Rover
Chang'e 5-T1 - 2014 - Test Vehicle
Queqiao - 2018 - Communications Relay Satellite

Lunar Exploration Timeline
Moon Home Page
Moon Fact Sheet

Dr. David R. Williams, dave.williams@nasa.gov
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: Dr. David R. Williams, david.r.williams@nasa.gov
Last Updated: 22 August 2018, DRW