The Chang'e 6 mission, China's next robotic expedition to the moon, will enable French scientists to put some of their equipment on the silver celestial body's little-known far side, according to China's leading space contractor.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a State-owned conglomerate, said on Monday that, based on a plan jointly made by China and France in 2019, Chang'e 6 will bring French devices to the moon for scientific tasks.
The company quoted a joint declaration as saying that the two countries welcome the cooperation between their space institutions regarding the Chang'e 6 probe and joint studies of extraterrestrial samples.
The document was released by the two nations during French President Emmanuel Macron's recent state visit to China.
The Chang'e 6 probe has been scheduled to launch around 2025 to land on the moon's far side and then collect and bring samples back.
If the mission succeeds, it will become the first time for humans to get samples from the far side.
The China National Space Administration has said that it will carry scientific instruments from France, Italy, and the European Space Agency/Sweden on the Chang'e 6 probe's lander, and a Pakistani payload on the orbiter.
China opened its lunar program in 2004 and has launched five robotic probes since 2007. The fourth in the row, Chang'e 4, landed on the far side of the moon in January 2019, becoming the first spacecraft to closely observe the lunar region. Its rover, named Yutu 2, has been working there for nearly 1,600 days as the world's longest-operating lunar rover.
Chang'e 4 carried German and Swedish sensing devices to the moon.
The most recent mission, Chang'e 5, landed on the moon in December 2020 and soon returned 1,731 grams of lunar rocks and soil back to Earth, achieving a historic accomplishment about 44 years after the last lunar substances were brought back from our nearest celestial neighbor.
Like Chang'e 5, Chang'e 6 will consist of four components — orbiter, lander, ascender, and re-entry module.