China will start engineering development of the fourth phase of its lunar exploration program this year, according to a senior official of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Sunday.
The Chang'e-6, Chang'e-7 and Chang'e-8 lunar probes will be launched successively, and the country will endeavor to make breakthroughs in key technologies and build an international lunar research station, Wu Yanhua, CNSA's deputy director, told an online launch ceremony for the 2022 Space Day of China on Sunday.
He said the Chang'e-6 will take samples from the far side of the moon. The administration is planning to set up a satellite constellation around the moon to provide communication and navigation services.
The main goal of the fourth phase is to carry out scientific exploration on the moon's south pole and set up a fundamental type of lunar scientific research station. The fourth phase will be carried out in three steps, with the Chang'e-6, Chang'e-7 and Chang'e-8 probes being launched before 2030.
At the ceremony, Wu also inaugurated an international cooperation center for satellite data and applications under the CNSA, and a data and application center for the remote sensing satellite constellation of BRICS countries.
Zhang Kejian, deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China and head of the CNSA, said the administration will uphold the principles of equality, mutual benefit, peaceful use and inclusive development, and adhere to the concept of peace and cooperation.
He said that the administration will make greater contributions to the exploration of the universe, people's well-being and the progress of human civilization, and work with global partners to build a community with a shared future for humanity in outer space.
During the 2022 Space Day of China, more than 200 activities will be held, including an aerospace open day, popular science lectures, knowledge contests, exchange events and seminars.