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China lands on moon’s far side in sample retrieval mission

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China landed an uncrewed spacecraft on the far side of the moon on Sunday (June 2), a landmark mission aiming to retrieve the world’s first rock and soil samples from the dark lunar hemisphere, China’s space agency said.

The landing elevates China’s space power status in a global rush to the moon, where countries, including the United States, are hoping to exploit lunar minerals to sustain long-term astronaut missions and moon bases within the next decade.

The Chang’e-6 craft, equipped with an array of tools and its own launcher, touched down in a gigantic impact crater called the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the moon’s space-facing side at 6:23 a.m. Beijing time (2223 GMT), the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement on its website.

China’s broader lunar strategy includes its first astronaut landing around 2030 in a program in which it counts Russia as a burgeoning partner. In 2020 China conducted its first lunar sample return mission with Chang’e-5, retrieving samples from the moon’s near-facing side.

(Reuters)

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