The China National Space Administration has announced opportunities for international collaboration on the upcoming Chang’e-8 lunar exploration mission, scheduled for launch around 2028. The Chang’e-8 mission is part of China’s ongoing efforts to explore and understand the moon’s mysteries. This article provides an overview of the opportunities available for countries and international organizations to participate in this ambitious lunar mission.
Open invitation for collaboration
In a recent announcement, the CNSA has extended an open invitation to all countries and international organizations to collaborate on the Chang’e-8 mission. The aim is to encourage collaborative efforts at the mission, system, or single-machine levels, fostering major original discoveries in lunar exploration.
Bid invitation at the International Astronautical Congress
The CNSA formally presented the opportunity for international collaboration during the International Astronautical Congress held in Baku, Azerbaijan. This global platform allowed for the dissemination of information about the Chang’e-8 mission and the potential for international partnerships.
Objectives of the Chang’e-8 mission
The Chang’e-8 mission is a pivotal component of China’s fourth stage in lunar exploration. Its primary objectives include:
- Lunar geological detection and research: The mission will conduct comprehensive geological analysis and research on the lunar surface.
- Lunar-based observations of Earth: The Chang’e-8 probe will enable observations of Earth from the lunar vantage point.
- Lunar in-situ sampling analysis: Gathering and analyzing lunar soil samples for scientific research.
- Resource utilization: Exploring the potential for lunar resource utilization.
- Terrestrial ecosystem experiment: Conducting a small, closed ecosystem experiment on the moon’s surface.
Preference for collaborative probes
The CNSA expresses a preference for international cooperation bids at the mission level, involving collaborative probes and interactions between two spacecraft. Furthermore, joint development of lunar robots capable of basic operations on the lunar surface and innovative science payloads are also encouraged.
Payload resources and size restrictions
The Chang’e-8 lander offers a payload resource of up to 200 kg. However, for standalone modules collaborating at the system and single-machine levels, the payload must be less than 100 kg.
Submission and selection timeline
Interested parties are requested to submit their Chang’e-8 proposals for international cooperation by December 31, 2023. Preliminary and final selections will be completed in April and September of the following year, respectively.
Chang’e-8: a lunar research station pioneer
Chang’e-8, together with Chang’e-7, will serve as the fundamental model for a future lunar research station. The Chang’e-7 mission, slated for around 2026, will focus on resource exploration at the lunar south pole.
China’s ongoing lunar missions
In addition to Chang’e-8, China has plans to launch Chang’e-6 in 2024, which will collect samples from the far side of the moon. This mission will also carry payloads from France, Italy, Pakistan, and the European Space Agency, including a negative ion detector and a radon gas detector.
The International Academy of Astronautics recently awarded the 2023 Laurels for Team Achievement to the Chang’e-5 team during its congress in Baku. The team’s chief designer, Hu Hao, announced that lunar soil samples collected during the Chang’e-5 mission would soon be made available for international applications in research and investigations.
The CNSA’s open invitation for international collaboration on the Chang’e-8 lunar mission presents an exciting opportunity for countries and organizations around the world to contribute to the advancement of lunar exploration. This initiative not only fosters scientific discovery but also promotes international cooperation in the realm of space exploration, paving the way for future collaboration on a global scale.