China Lands Probe On Moon


China has successfully landed a probe on the back side of the moon, and it intends to bring part of it back to Earth with a load of rocks. The Chang’e-6 lander landed in the Aitken Basin near the South Pole. It touched down in a crater and appears to be operating normally. The lander has been in a lunar orbit for 20 days and is part of a four-part system that includes the orbiter, lander, ascender and reentry vehicle that will ultimately bring the payload home.

The robotic mission is a dress rehearsal for a crewed mission planned for 2030 and the eventual establishment of a base in the area, which may have ice. The mission began on May 3 and is scheduled to last 53 days. As for the scientific part of the mission, the samples are expected to reveal information on the origin and natural history of the moon. It’s China’s second successful uncrewed landing on the moon.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. It is a hell of an achievement! Magna cum Laude! Let’s se what we can all learn from this stupendous effort.

  2. This will drive NASA nuts. BTW, there is no dark side of the moon. It is tidally locked to Earth so there is a far side, where the Aitken Basin is located, but all sides are illuminated each month as it orbits the Earth.

  3. @ [email protected]: Right!, except Chang’e 6 alighted on the lunar surface shortly after sunrise for best smooth-surface detection conditions. It was most definitely NOT dark.

  4. Is the photo “generated”, or if it is an actual photo, from what kind of platform (the orbiter?) was the photo taken?

  5. Well you guys beat me to the punch line, “There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.” My love for Pink Floyd back in the ’70s is how I ended up with my call sign “Pinky”.

    Moving on to the image of the lander, I am pretty sure it deployed a long selfie-stick for its iPhone. We should see it regularly posting on TikTok any minute now.

  6. Could they make it look any more like the original “NASA Lunar Lander”? Come on China you can do better, don’t use all those stolen plans that the Soviet Union sold you from the 1970’s.

    • Second rule of engineering: use what’s been shown to work.
      (First rule: something about trade-offs and compromises.)

  7. My thoughts exactly Roger. On second look, the lander does appear more square then I remember from the plastic model I built 5-ish decades ago.

  8. The far side is dark like the continent of Africa… lots of it unexplored or even seen first person.

  9. At the rate we are going right now, China may have a manned mission to the moon before we get Artemis launched to the ISS.