Prelims level : Space Technology Mains level : Developments in Science and Technology
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Why in News:

  • Beijing plans to send a manned mission to the moon and to build a research station with the aim to achieve space superpower status and to became the first nation to land a rover on the far side of the moon.


  • The Beijing plans to launch a Mars probe by 2020 and confirmed that a fourth lunar probe,
  • the Chang’e-5, will be launched by the end of the year.
  • The current Chang’e-4 moon lander carried equipment from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Long March-5B rocket will make its maiden flight in the first half of 2020, carrying the core parts of a planned space station. It is planned to replace the International Space Station a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan, which is due to be retired in 2024.
  • It is planned to build a scientific research station on the moon’s south pole within the next 10 years, China National Space Administration head Zhang Kejian said during a speech marking “Space Day”. China now spends more on its civil and military space programmes than Russia and Japan, and is second only to the United States.

Chang’e 4 craft,

  • The Chinese National Space Administration has become the first space agency in the world to land its moon lander.
  • Chang’e 4 craft, on the dark side of the moon that faces away from the Earth. Chang’e 4 craft opened up a new chapter in human lunar exploration.
  • Before China, two nations – the United States, the former Soviet Union have sent spacecraft to the near side of the moon.

Key Highlights

  • The relatively unexplored far side of the moon has a different composition than the near side, where previous missions have landed. Chang’e 4, a combined lander and rover, will make astronomical observations and probe the structure and mineral composition of the terrain above and below the surface.


Chang’e 5:

  • Chang’e 5 is a robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission consisting of a lander and a sample-return vehicle. It is currently under development and it is scheduled for a launch in December 2019, after being postponed due to the failure of the Long March 5 launch vehicle in 2017. Chang’e 5 will be China’s first sample return mission, aiming to return at least 2 kilograms of lunar soil and rock samples back to the Earth.
  • The spacecraft is named after its predecessors the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e. This will be the first lunar sample-return mission since Luna 24 in 1976.
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