Commentary: Chang'e-6 mission sheds new light on humanity's journey into space

(Xinhua) 09:43, June 26, 2024

BEIJING, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The Chang'e-6 returner, carrying the world's first samples from the far side of the moon, landed in north China on Tuesday, marking a significant step in China's lunar exploration and a new hope for humanity's journey into the vastness of outer space.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a pioneer of astronautics and spaceflight, once said Earth is the cradle of humanity, but that one cannot live in the cradle forever. The Chang'e-6 mission is one of our tottering steps away from that cradle, which will eventually constitute a giant leap for humanity's cosmic future.

Launched on May 3, the mission lasted more than 50 days and is one of the most complex and challenging missions in China's space endeavors to date. It is also a highlight among decades of global lunar exploration efforts.

Previous lunar sampling missions carried out by the United States, the Soviet Union and China all collected samples from the moon's near side. Samples of Chang'e-6 will open a new window for scientists to study the moon's evolutionary history and even the origins of the solar system, laying a solid foundation for deep space adventure.

A milestone in China's space exploration history, the Chang'e-6 mission not only embodies the ingenuity and efforts of China's scientists and engineers, but also exemplifies the country's commitment to open cooperation for the common interest of humanity.

The spacecraft carried four international payloads from the European Space Agency (ESA), France, Italy and Pakistan, and they all functioned as planned.

Neil Melville-Kenney, ESA technical officer for the Negative Ions on the Lunar Surface project, said this was ESA's first activity on the surface of the moon, and they managed to collect data of a quantity and quality far beyond their expectations. Also, as a part of the cooperation, the ESA provided support to the mission on its way to the moon and back, with its ground stations tracking the spacecraft to confirm its orbit.

The French payload, named Detection of Outgassing RadoN (DORN), on board Chang'e-6 was the first French instrument to operate on the moon. After the landing, the first set of measurement results provided by DORN, eagerly awaited by the French scientists, confirmed its normal operation.

As shown by the Chang'e-6 mission, many countries and international organizations have advanced the collective understanding and exploration of the cosmos through sharing of technology and expertise. The success of the mission stands as a testament to the power of global cooperation in humanity's journey to deep space.

But regrettably, there are also some political hurdles on this long journey. Notably, some American politicians, obsessed with a zero-sum mentality, cannot bear to witness the success of other countries and are resistant to this trend of open cooperation.

To block exchanges and cooperation with China in the space sector, they have created a slew of barriers, such as the Wolf Amendment, which the global science community has met with criticism and discontent. These narrow-minded actions have hindered the efforts of American scientists who are seeking space cooperation with China. Ironically, the United States has expressed the hope to share China's lunar samples.

In contrast to these barriers, China and its partner nations have set a good example by sharing in joint efforts in their pursuit of space exploration. After the Chang'e-6 mission, China will continue to work with more nations to embrace the moon in future missions such as Chang'e-7, Chang'e-8 and the International Lunar Research Station.

Cooperation instead of confrontation, and win-win outcomes rather than a monopoly are the approaches that should become the fundamental consensus for space exploration. In this regard, China has demonstrated itself as a reliable and responsible partner with its concrete actions.

With space exploration venturing into broader frontiers, the risks and challenges humanity may face are becoming immense. This means the human race should unite and work together on this long journey. Only by discarding the narrow concept of zero-sum games and fostering a sense of collective wisdom and efforts can we travel further into our universe.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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