This Week in Space

May 31st 2024

This Week in Space 113

China’s Heavenly Dream

Hosted by Rod Pyle, Tariq Malik

Chang’e 6 and China’s Lunar Ambitions With Mike Wall

New episodes posted every Friday.
Guests: Mike Wall
Category: News

In this episode of This Week in Space, Rod Pyle and Tariq Malik discuss the latest updates on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the potential for aurora sightings due to increased solar activity, and China’s ambitious lunar exploration program with returning guest Mike Wall, Spaceflight Editor at The conversation focuses on China’s upcoming Chang’e 6 mission, its capabilities, and the implications of China’s growing presence on the Moon. The hosts also touch upon the nationalistic aspects of the new space race between the United States and China.


  • Boeing’s Starliner update: The spacecraft is ready for launch on June 1st, despite recent issues with parachutes, wiring, and helium leaks.
  • Venus Exploration: Japan’s Akatsuki probe, currently the only active mission at Venus, has lost contact with JAXA. However, NASA, ESA, and private companies like Rocket Lab are planning future missions to explore the planet.
  • SpaceX Dragon capsule debris found in North Carolina: A piece of the trunk, about the size of a small coffee table, was discovered on a hiking trail.
  • Increased solar activity may lead to Aurora sightings: A giant sunspot has returned, and its intense activity could trigger powerful Aurora displays.

Main Topic - China’s Lunar Ambitions and the New Space Race:

  • Chang’e 6 Mission: China is set to launch the Chang’e 6 mission to the far side of the moon’s southern polar region, with the goal of returning samples. The mission is part of China’s ambitious lunar exploration program.
  • International Collaboration: Although US-China collaboration is limited, Chang’e 6 includes contributions from France, Italy, Sweden, and Pakistan.
  • Future Chinese Lunar Missions: China plans to launch Chang’e 7 in 2026, featuring an orbiter, rover, and a hopping robot, and Chang’e 8 in 2028, which will attempt 3D printing using lunar regolith.
  • Artemis Accords and the Outer Space Treaty: As China and the US both aim to establish a presence on the moon, questions arise about territorial claims and the enforcement of the Outer Space Treaty.
  • Space Race Rhetoric: Both the US and China have engaged in nationalistic rhetoric regarding their lunar ambitions, with concerns about China’s potential to claim exclusive rights to lunar resources.
  • Scientific Significance: Despite the geopolitical tensions, Chang’e 6 and future missions from both nations have the potential to greatly advance our understanding of the moon and its environment.

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