Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), announced the launch of the fourth phase of the lunar exploration program this year. And this program will be quite intense.
“The fourth phase of lunar exploration engineering and research officially begins this year,” Wu Yanhua said. He also specified that CSNA will soon send the Chang’e-6, Chang’e-7 and Chang’e-8 automatic stations to the Moon. The upcoming missions will test key technologies and begin construction of the International Lunar Science Station (ILSS).
“The Chang’e-6 space probe will be sent to the back side of the moon to collect samples. The formation of a constellation of telecommunication and navigation lunar satellites is being discussed now,” he added.
In November 2017, Roscosmos and CNSA signed a cooperation program for 2018-2022. It includes six sections on lunar and deep space exploration, space science and related technologies, satellites and their applications, elemental base and materials, and interaction in remote sensing data. Working subgroups were formed to implement this program. Last March, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin and CNSA head Zhang Kejian signed a memorandum of understanding to promote cooperation and implement a joint INLS project.