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Official: China’s lunar probe will carry French and Russian equipment

China says it will launch its next robot lunar landing module in 2024 and transport equipment from France, Sweden, Russia and Italy.

BEIJING (AP) – China will launch its next robot lunar landing module in 2024 and transport equipment from France, Sweden, Russia and Italy, the official news agency reported.

Plans include Chang’e 6 to land near the south lunar pole and collect samples to return to Earth, the program’s chief designer, Hu Hao, said at a conference on Saturday, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The Chang’e landing modules are part of China’s space exploration efforts, which also include a probe that is preparing to land a space robot on Mars. There are also plans for a manned orbital station, landing a human on the moon and recovering soil from an asteroid.

In December, the previous lunar probe, Chang’e 5, returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.

Chang’e 6 should “automatically collect lunar samples for comprehensive analysis and research,” said Hu, according to Hu’s quote at the conference in the eastern city of Nanjing.

The probe is expected to carry instruments developed by scientists from France, Sweden, Italy and Russia, Hu said. He did not give details of what they will do.

The announcement reflects the growing interaction between China’s secret and military space program and other countries.

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