Future of China ' s Space Research, presented at the IAC 2022 exhibition

Future of China ' s Space Research, presented at the IAC 2022 exhibition

On the penultimate day of IAC2022, as part of the discussion on China ' s space programmes, delegates from the Chinese Space Agency presented the missions outside the Earth ' s orbit planned for that decade, with a particular focus on international cooperation, Beijing planned to carry out a sufficient number of missions, particularly to the Moon.

This is taking place in parallel with the Tianwen interplanetary research programme, which consists of three very ambitious missions.

Chan ' ie ' s final phase

One of the main themes of the discussion was undoubtedly the latest information on the recent missions of the Chan ' e programme, launched in 2004, the Chinese Moon Research Initiative has now completed six successful missions, most recently in 2020, when Chan ' i ' 5 delivered lunar soil samples to Earth for the first time in more than 40 years.

China is planning three more missions called "Chanye" for the future.

Chan ' e 6

Mission number 6 of Chan ' e remains almost identical in design to the Chan ' e-5. Mission No. 6 is a Chan ' e-5 twin and was designed primarily as a backup in case the first attempt to bring mountain rock samples from our satellite to Earth is unsuccessful.

During the Paris convention, CNSA delegates provided some details about Chan & 6 as well as some confirmations: first, the purpose of the moon landing remains fixed on the southern pole of the Moon, more specifically in the Aitken basin, which lies on the hidden face of the Moon; the launch of the probe is scheduled for 2024-2025 and the return of the moonstones is scheduled to take place within the same time frame as mission number five.

Also noteworthy is the international cooperation of three instruments produced by European countries, including Italy, France and Sweden; finally, there will be a small cube known as ICUBE-Q, built by Pakistan.

Chan ' e 7 and 8

Instead, important innovations are emerging on Chan ' a-7, whose mission architecture has been defined in a much clearer and more deliberate manner, with one of the most significant changes being the split into two vehicle launches. In the first, scheduled for 2024, the Quiqiao-2 telecommunications satellite will be launched into the lunar orbit. In 2026, the second part, consisting of an orbiter, a landing vehicle, two lunars and a bunker, will be launched.

The first of the two lunar ships is owned by the United Arab Emirates and will become the second lunar from this Arab country after the lunar launch scheduled for November 2022. The IAC presentation emphasizes that the possibility of other countries participating in the Chan ' ae 7 is still open. In fact, it is possible to add up to 15 kg and a third small lunar weighing 10 kg.

At IAC2022, China also presented a profile of the Chan & 8 mission. Here we also saw the first mission scheme ever presented to the public. The last Chan ' e mission looks very similar to Chan & 7 with the same elements. However, since it is still in the preliminary stage of development, it is likely that several changes will be made before the final design is found. During the discussion, it was clarified that Chan & 8 is in the preliminary phase, the project is not yet complete but more specific than phase 0 of the other missions.

The Chan & 8 launch is scheduled for 2030, and it will be equipped with an uncertain set of tools to study the use of lunar resources; this mission will also become a sort of command and communication centre for a future Chinese robot lunar station.

ILRS, Chinese Artemis takes shape.

ILRS "International Moon Research Station"

The idea of Beijing is to involve as many countries as possible in the creation of a robotic lunar outpost with major missions planned for the next decade, and this is also possible with the help of the development of heavy-duty missiles such as Changzhen-9. The first phase of ILRS will be the integration of the Chan ' ae missions with the Russian Luna missions.

Tianven in the direction of Uranus

Last important topic on IAC2022

Tianven-2 confirmed almost all its objectives and design as well as launch date

Finally, there is "Tianwen 4", probably the most complex and ambitious Chinese mission currently planned by Beijing. In early 2021, two possible architectures of the Tianwen-4 mission were presented. At the IAC2022 session, it appears that the choice was made for the Callisto orbiter, passing through Jupiter. The slides show how the probe looks like the American Juno.