Chang’e-6 demonstrates ‘international style’

At 7:38 am on Tuesday, the Chang’e-6 ascender lifted off from the far side of the moon carrying lunar samples and was successfully sent into the targeted orbit around the moon. Previously, from Sunday to Monday, Chang’e-6 successfully completed one of the core key aspects of this mission, namely the intelligent and rapid sampling of the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon. So far, China has become the only country in the world that has landed on the far side of the moon twice. This is also the first time that humans have successfully collected lunar soil from the far side of the moon. This “historic” and “remarkable” achievement by China not only represents China’s technological breakthrough in aerospace, but also means that it has added an important piece of the puzzle for human lunar exploration.

This news is exciting. The China National Space Administration previously said this mission would involve “many engineering innovations, high risks and great difficulty.” The outside world also generally believed that Chang’e-6’s landing was “fraught with risks.” Compared with the near side of the moon, the terrain on the far side of the moon is more rugged. The pre-selected landing area in the terrain of the South Pole-Aitken Basin is lower and there are more impact craters, making lighting and measurement more susceptible to terrain obstruction. This increases the difficulty of a smooth landing of Chang’e-6.

Therefore, when the series of images taken by the Chang’e-6 lander on the far side of the moon were transmitted back to the ground through the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, not only Chinese netizens cheered for it, but the international community, especially the scientific community, was also very excited, believing that China’s lunar probe “will help answer key questions about the early evolution of the solar system.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of China’s lunar exploration project. Looking back on the past 20 years, it has been a soul-stirring 20 years in China’s aerospace history. From Chang’e-1 to Chang’e-6, from the initial exploration of the moon to detailed survey, from the lunar surface observation to the exploration of the far side of the moon, from remote sensing observation to returning with samples … On the basis of completing the three-step plan of “orbiting, landing and returning,” the fourth phase of the lunar exploration project is moving toward new goals. It will not only implement the mission of sampling from the far side of the moon and returning, but also land on the lunar south pole and carry out moon leap. The successful launch and operation of Chang’e-6 has further boosted people’s confidence and expectations that China will achieve manned lunar landings before 2030 and complete construction of an integrated international lunar research station before 2040.

China’s exploration of the space is not only based on itself, but also faces the world and benefits mankind. China has always been willing to carry out in-depth international exchanges and cooperation in space on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, peaceful utilization and inclusive development. Chang’e-6 provides open opportunities for international cooperation. Chang’e-6 also carries international payloads from the European Space Agency (ESA), France, Italy and Pakistan, which highlights the “international style” of China’s lunar exploration project.

Among them, the French lunar radon detector functioned during the Earth-moon transfer, lunar orbit, and lunar surface stages; the ESA’s lunar surface negative ion analyzer operated during the lunar surface stage. Additionally, an Italian laser retroreflector mounted on the top of the lander served as a position control point for distance measurements on the far side of the moon. As the result of the “collective efforts” of multiple countries, the significance of Chang’e-6 transcends national boundaries. It marks the historic progress of human unity, cooperation and peaceful use of outer space.

We have noticed that in Western public opinion, the admiration for China’s success this time far exceeds the clichés that exaggerate “space competition.” In addition to affirmation of China’s hard power in science and technology, this also includes praise for the “Chang’e” program’s openness to international cooperation. Of course, there are also some American media who are stuck in their stereotypes and sourly stated that the US must “land humans back on the moon before China,” otherwise “the authoritarian model will prevail over democracy.” This mentality is not only unhelpful to human progress, but will also cause the US to miss more opportunities. In fact, China has always focused on “doing its own business” and has never set “defeating its opponents” as its goal. Therefore, China has stayed away from strategic anxiety and stopped worrying about gains and losses. This is the fundamental reason why we can be practical and steady every step of the way.

In the face of the vast space, mankind is a community with a shared future that shares weal and woe. Having completed the sample-retrieval mission, Chang’e-6 successfully unfurled China’s national flag it carried on the far side of the moon. This flag not only carries China’s national pride, but also carries the common dream of all mankind, because “Chang’e” belongs to China and also belongs to all mankind. When “Chang’e” left the image of sharing the beauty of the moon thousands of miles apart to the world, it also gave a vivid demonstration of the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind in outer space.

Global Times

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