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Chang'e-6 completes over 70 pct of journey back to Earth with moon samples

China

China

China

Chang'e-6 completes over 70 pct of journey back to Earth with moon samples

2024-06-22 15:00 Last Updated At:15:37

China's Chang'e-6 lunar probe has completed over 70 percent of its Earth-returning journey through its 380,000-kilometer distance, carrying the first-ever batch of lunar samples collected from the far side of the moon, the mission's official media channel announced on Friday.

The Chang'e-6 probe was launched from south China's Hainan Province on May 3, with the goal of bringing back these milestone lunar samples.

The lander-ascent combination successfully touched down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on June 2, and the probe completed the sample collection operations in two days.

The ascent vehicle then lifted off from the lunar surface on June 4, carrying the precious cargo.

The ascender successfully rendezvoused and docked with the orbiter-returner combination on the lunar orbit on June 6. Shortly after the docking procedure, the container carrying the lunar samples was safely transferred from the ascender to the returner, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

As planned, the probe's returner, carrying the samples, is expected to land in the Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Chang'e-6 completes over 70 pct of journey back to Earth with moon samples

Chang'e-6 completes over 70 pct of journey back to Earth with moon samples

China's private manufacturing companies have made significant headway in shifting their conventional business to commercial space industry by stepping up integrated innovation.

As a leading industry player, the No. 2 Construction Machinery Plant of Fangyuan Group, is a long-established private company in Yantai City, east China's Shandong Province, specializing in the production of pile drivers, lifts and other machineries.

This seemingly unrelated company is now thriving as a supplier in the commercial space industry, after upgrading its production lines on the basis of existing large-scale computerized numerical control (CNC) equipment and sophisticated manufacturing technologies.

"We mainly process aluminum materials to a consistent thickness by CNC machining, and then send them to the next factory," said Zhang Wei, production manager of the company.

This factory produces parts that will be used as the bottoms of rocket propellant tank. The products will be sent to another factory 10 kilometers away for the production of propellant tanks.

Private companies did not have the production technology for both the body and bottoms just three years ago, but now, commercial rocket manufacturers can purchase propellant tanks from private companies.

"Our next goal is to shorten the production cycle by half and cut cost by half," said Wang Hailong, deputy director of production planning department of a rocket propellant tank manufacturing company.

According to industry insiders, private companies are estimated to account for over 70 percent in the supply chain system of the commercial space industry with a rising trend in its proportion.

"We are constantly looking for suitable companies in industries such as machinery, aviation, automobiles and consumer electronic and inform them the needs of space companies set up here, while guiding them to continuously upgrade and improve technical capabilities, so that commercial space industry completely opens its supply chain to private companies," said Chu Na, deputy director of the Aerospace Industry Development Center of Haiyang City, a county-level city under the administration of Yantai.

Another private company in Yantai, that originally produce air dome stadiums, has entered the aerospace supply chain through technological innovation. It now produces windproof and rainproof inflatable coat that can ensure safety of rocket during the transport process to an offshore launch site.

In response to the needs of high-performance product and cost reduction, another private company developed a special foam insulation coating used on core components of rockets, by improving and upgrading insulation materials used in the construction industry.

On the basis of innovation on rocket parts production, the commercial space industry is witnessing more and more integrated innovation.

"This is the fourth stage of a rocket. This is the brain of the fourth stage, which used to be four, but now has been [integrated into] one. This is a bracket made of lightweight carbon fiber composite material. Under it, this is a brand-new 3D printed nozzle. We developed these new technologies and new materials together with private companies. Integrating these technologies, we can reduce the cost and production cycle by more than 30 percent," said Gong Yicheng, deputy director of structural technology department of a commercial rocket company.

Private companies in Shandong making headway in shifting business to commercial space industry

Private companies in Shandong making headway in shifting business to commercial space industry

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