|Mission type||Surface sample return|
|Launch mass||8,200 kg (18,100 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||2023 or 2024 |
|Rocket||Chang Zheng 5|
Chang'e 6 (Chinese: 嫦娥六号; pinyin: Cháng'é liùhào) is a planned robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission expected to be launched in 2023 or 2024 and perform China's second sample return mission. Like its predecessors, the spacecraft is named after the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e.
The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program is designed to be conducted in four phases of incremental technological advancement: The first is reaching lunar orbit, completed by Chang'e 1 in 2007 and Chang'e 2 in 2010. The second is landing and roving on the Moon, as Chang'e 3 did in 2013 and Chang'e 4 did in 2019. The third is collecting lunar samples from the near-side and sending them to Earth, completed by Chang'e 5 in 2020 and planned for the Chang'e 6 mission. The fourth phase consists of development of a robotic research station near the Moon's south pole. The program aims to facilitate a crewed lunar landing in the 2030s and possibly build an outpost near the lunar south pole.
Chang'e 6 was built as a copy and backup of Chang'e 5. The mission is reported to consist of four modules: the lander will collect about 2 kg (4.4 lb) of samples from 2 metres (6.6 ft) below the surface and place them in an attached ascent vehicle to be launched into lunar orbit. The ascent vehicle will then make an automatic rendezvous and dock with an orbiter that will transfer the samples into a sample-return capsule for their delivery to Earth. The estimated launch mass is 8,200 kg (18,100 lb)—the lander is projected to be 3,780 kg (8,330 lb) and the ascent vehicle is about 120 kg (260 lb).
In October 2018, Chinese officials announced that they will call for international partners to propose an additional payload up to 10 kg (22 lb) to be included in this mission. The spacecraft will carry a French instrument called DORN (Detection of Outgassing Radon) to study the transport of lunar dust and other volatiles between the lunar regolith and the lunar exosphere, including the water cycle.