Chang’e 6: A Historic Sample Return Misson from the Moon’s Far Side

China’s Chang’e 6 mission made space resource history by successfully retrieving 1.935 kilograms of lunar samples from the Moon’s far side.

This was the first time Lunar regolith had been retrieved from the far-side of the Moon.

Chang’e 6 was launched in 3rd May 2024, it embarked on a 53-day journey, culminating in the return capsule’s touchdown in Inner Mongolia on June 25th.

Chang’e 6 is not China’s first lunar sample return mission. In 2020, Chang’e 5 had retrieved material from the Moon’s near side.

The importance of the Chang’e 6 missions is that China has proven operations on the lunar far side (permanently hidden from Earth’s view) are possible, even within rugged terrain.


  • The mission began on 3rd May 2024 when the spacecraft was launched from Hainan. After entering lunar orbit, the lander separated and de-orbited to the South Pole-Aitken basin, a massive impact crater.
  • The lander and rover touched down on the Lunar far side on 1st June 2024.
  • The lander’s robotic scoop and drill took samples with a total mass of 1935.3 grams from the lunar surface.
  • On 3rd June 2024 the ascender module then carried these into lunar orbit on.
  • The ascender then docked with the orbiter module in lunar orbit on 6th June 2024 and transferred the samples to an atmospheric re-entry module which then began manoeuvres back to Earth.
  • The return capsule re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on June 25th, landing in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia.

The strategic advantage for China, who has a superior supply-chain of platinum group metals, critical elements, and rare Earth elements, is that by having a firmed idea of the resources to be explored in the far-side, particularly in the South Pole-Aitken basin, they have a better idea of where to search next for concentrated deposits of high-value resources on the Moon.

Illustration below from: From China National Space Administration (CNSA), showing the lander and a robotic arm scooping up Lunar soil samples.

Image below: Panoramic image taken from Chang’e 6 Lander.

Image below from:

Leave a Reply