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China Presents Results of Chang’e-6 Return to Earth, Insists U.S. Drop Restrictions on Space Cooperation

Chinese Chang'e-6 lander on the far side of the moon. Credit: CNSA X page

The China National Space Administration held a press conference on June 27, at which they announced the first in history return of 2 kg of lunar soil from the far side of the Moon, and distributed portions of it to various international organizations for their study. “This is a journey of innovation,” said Bian Zhigang, Vice Administrator of CNSA. “The Chang’e-6 mission is the most technologically advanced lunar exploration mission in China’s aerospace history, breaking through the design and control technology of the Moon’s retrograde orbit, the intelligent sampling technology on the back of the Moon, and the takeoff and ascent technology on the back of the Moon, realizing history’s first automatic sampling and return on the far side of the Moon, and once again setting a world record for China’s aerospace.”

At a separate press conference the same day, Bian used the occasion to underline the international cooperative nature of the Chinese space program and urged the U.S. to remove the restrictions which have been placed on its cooperation with China in space. “I believe the American scientists wish to participate in the research of our lunar samples,” Bian said. “They should take practical measures to remove the restrictions in order to establish normal communication with China.”

Chang’e-6 involved cooperation with the European Space Agency, Italy, France, and Pakistan. China’s future lunar missions, Chang’e-7 and Chang’e-8, will significantly expand international participation. Chang’e-7, scheduled for launch around 2026, will carry six scientific instruments from various international partners, focusing on the lunar south pole region. They have also signed agreements with 10 countries and international organizations in the project to build their research station on the Moon.

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