Chinese engineers are wrapping up work on the Chang’e-5 lunar mission for a targeted November launch atop a Long March 5 booster. It will depart from the newly completed Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province. If successful, this robotic mooncraft would carry the first lunar samples returned to Earth in over 40 years.
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft would include an orbiter and a lander, with that lander carrying a rover.
Six months after seeking information about instruments it could fly to the moon, NASA has issued a request for information for commercial systems that could transport payloads there.
In recent weeks NASA had laid out more details about what an outpost orbiting the moon might look like and how it could be built - driven by the need to start planning payloads for the initial missions to develop it.
The White House declined to comment on any interest the administration has in mining the moon.
If NASA’s human spaceflight program is redirected back to the Moon, Blue Origin is ready to support it with its proposed “Blue Moon” lunar lander system, company president Robert Meyerson said April 5.
With NASA’s long-term strategy for human missions to Mars in flux, heads of several space agencies said they supported initial missions to the moon as a key step before going to Mars.
A leading official in China’s lunar and Mars exploration program was reportedly denied a visa by the United States to attend a scientific conference here this week.
Team Indus announced a student team from Naples won the the Lab2Moon competition.
Despite uncertainty about potential policy changes, NASA is pressing ahead with plans for a cislunar “gateway” outpost for future human missions, with decisions about how to develop it expected in the coming months.
The launch company proposed developing a cargo lander called Blue Moon that could support a future lunar base at the south pole.
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk announced Feb. 27 that the company is pursuing plans to launch two people on a Dragon spacecraft around the moon in late 2018.