China’s robotic spacecraft to be sent to the moon

The Chang’e 6 probe atop a Long March 5 carrier rocket is transported to the launch site in Wenchang, Hainan province. [Photo/Provided to]

The Chang’e 6, China’s next robotic spacecraft to the moon, has been scheduled to set out on its journey in the coming days, tasked with bringing back samples from the silver celestial body’s little-known far side, according to the China National Space Administration.

A Long March 5 carrier rocket, with the 8.2-metric-ton Chang’e 6 probe on top of it, was vertically moved on Saturday morning to its launch service tower at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, the administration said in a news release, noting the flight will take place in due course in early May.

The Chang’e 6 was transported to the launch center in January, while the Long March 5 rocket arrived in March. They were assembled and tested at the spaceport.

In the next few days, engineers will conduct final functional examinations and pump propellants into the rocket, the release said.

If everything goes according to plan, after entering its moon-bound trajectory, the Chang’e 6 will make a series of flight maneuvers and finally land in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the lunar far side.