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China has approved three more missions to the Moon over the coming decade, including ones involving rovers, a flying craft and the start of a permanent base. 

This will be the fourth phase of the Chinese lunar plan, that has previously seen them photograph the dark side, and return samples of moon rock to the Earth.

Future missions, scheduled to begin in 2024, will become increasingly complex, resulting in the basic model of a lunar research station built on the Moon.

This station is a joint project with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and is expected to be operational ahead of a joint crewed mission in 2030.

Known as Chang'e 6, 7 and 8, the trio of uncrewed moon mission will launch throughout the 2020s on an array of spacecraft, according to Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The move comes as part of China's increasing push into space exploration, that saw the nation launch its own space station in 2021.

China has approved three more missions to the Moon over the coming decade, including ones involving rovers, a flying craft and the start of a permanent base

China has approved three more missions to the Moon over the coming decade, including ones involving rovers, a flying craft and the start of a permanent base 

The Yutu 2 rover (pictured), which almost three years ago arrived with the first spacecraft to land on the dark side of the moon, saw the object while travelling across the Von Kármán crater

The Yutu 2 rover (pictured), which almost three years ago arrived with the first spacecraft to land on the dark side of the moon, saw the object while travelling across the Von Kármán crater

Known as the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), it will consist of a surface moon base and station in lunar orbit, with construction expected to start in 2026

Known as the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), it will consist of a surface moon base and station in lunar orbit, with construction expected to start in 2026

UPCOMING CHANG'E MISSIONS 

Chang'e-6 will be the first mission to explore the Moon's south pole. It's expected to launch in 2023 or 2024.

Chang'e-7 will study the land surface, composition, space environment in an overall mission, according to the Chinese space authority, while Chang'e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.

China is also reportedly working on building a lunar base using 3D printing technology and sending a future crewed mission to the surface.

Chang'e-8 will likely lay the groundwork for this as it strives to verify technology for the project.  

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The first of the phase four moon missions to launch will be Chang'e 7, expected to launch around 2024, when NASA is expected to returns humans to the moon.

The Chinese mission will be multipurpose, including a relay satellite, a lander, a rover and a mini flying craft, similar to the NASA Ingenuity helicopter used on Mars.

The collection of moon vehicles are designed to hunt for evidence of ice at hte lunar south pole, that could provide water and fuel for a future colony.

They will carry a number of science instruments, including radar, camera, mineral imager, thermometer and even a water-molecule analyser.

The goal is to create a comprehensive picture of the lunar environment, and will launch on China's largest rocket, the Long March 5.

Chang'e 6 will launch second, although no specific dates have been given for when it is expected to leave the Earth.

It was originally envisioned as a backup for the Chang'e 5 sample-return mission, that brought rock samples back to Earth in December 2020.

Now a mission in its own right, it will build on the success of Chang'e 5, by bringing rock samples back to Earth, but also carrying science payloads for international partners including France, Italy, Russia and Sweden.

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-10356315/China-approves-THREE-missions-moon-decade.html

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