China plans to conduct more deep space exploration missions in next 10 to 15 years, says top designer of lunar exploration program

China plans to conduct more deep space exploration missions in next 10 to 15 years, says top designer of lunar exploration program

An illustration shows the orbital transfer injection by Chang'e 5's orbiter-reentry capsule combination. In a recent interview, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar exploration program and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that China will carry out more deep space exploration missions in the next 10 to 15 years.

Wu said China has planned the fourth stage of its lunar exploration program, including Chang'e 6, Chang'e 7, and Chang'e 8.

Among them is Chang'e 6 set to collect samples from the far side of the moon and bring them back to Earth. If successful, it will be the first time for mankind to achieve such a mission, said Wu.

Chang'e 5 retrieved 1,731 grams of lunar soil from the near side of the moon. He said that Chang'e 6 will collect more samples from the far side, aiming to achieve a goal of 2,000 grams.

For other lunar missions, Chang'e 7 is going to land on the moon's South Pole and have a flyover to search for water in the caves at the moon's South Pole that never sees sunlight, according to the chief designer.

The Chang'e 8, which will be launched around 2028, will form the basis of a scientific research station at the moon's South Pole with Chang'e 7, said Wu. The station will include a lunar orbiter, lander, rover, a flying vehicle, and multiple scientific instruments.

Wu said that they hope to cooperate with other countries to build an international lunar scientific research station by the year 2035 and realize joint design, joint survey, scientific data sharing and joint management of the station by the year 2035.

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According to Wu, China is studying the feasibility of building internet communications on the moon to integrate data relay, navigation and remote sensing, which is expected to achieve effective management of the lunar probes.

The lunar samples No 001 brought back by China's Chang'e 5 probe is displayed on February 27, 2021 at the National Museum of China in Beijing, China. JIN LIANGKUAI XINHUA On small celestial bodies, Wu said that China plans to have asteroid sampling in the next 10 to 15 years and will have an overall plan for the detection, early warning, and deflecting of small celestial bodies posing potential threats to Earth.

China plans to extract samples from Mars and conduct interplanetary exploration of Jupiter and Uranus. Exploration of the sun and sending a probe into the edge of the solar system are also in contemplation, said Wu.

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We're going to develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle with a takeoff thrust of about 4,000 tons, to send astronauts to the moon and Mars, said Wu.