WENCHANG, China (Reuters) – China emboldened Tuesday as the success of a pre-dawn launch of a robotic spacecraft, the first by any country to retrieve lunar surface samples since the 1970s. To bring back rocks from the Moon in dialect, a mission underlines Chinese ambitions in space.
China’s largest cargo rocket Long March-5 was destroyed at 4:30 am Beijing time (2030 GMT) on Monday from the Wenchang Space Launch Center carrying the southern Chinese island of Chang’e-5 spacecraft. Launched.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) described the launch as successful and said in a statement that the rocket flew for about 37 minutes before sending the spacecraft on its intended trajectory.
The Chang’-5 mission, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will try to collect lunar material to help scientists understand more about the origin and formation of the moon. The mission will test China’s ability to obtain samples from space, ahead of more complex missions.
The state broadcaster CCTV, which had live coverage of the launch, praised and cheered images of CNSA staff in blue uniforms as they watched the spacecraft ascending through the atmosphere, illuminating the night sky.
If the mission is completed as planned, it will make China only the third country to retrieve lunar specimens joining the United States and the Soviet Union.
Upon entering the lunar orbit, the spacecraft aims to deploy a pair of vehicles on the lunar surface: a lander and an ascending one. According to Pei Zhaoyu, a spokesperson for the mission, the landing is scheduled to take place in about eight days. The probe is due to be on the lunar surface for about two days, while the entire mission is scheduled to take about 23 days.
The plan is that in order to drill the lander into the lunar surface, a robotic hand must eject soil and rocks. This material will be transferred to the ascending vehicle, which is to move it from the surface and then to dock with an orbiting module.
The specimens will then be transferred to a return capsule for a return trip to Earth, with it landing in the Inner Mongolia region of China.
“The biggest challenges … are doing sample work on the lunar surface, take-off from the lunar surface, rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit, as well as high-speed re-entry to Earth,” Oi also said, Director in Space Administration’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center.
“We can conduct sampling through perimeter and moon-landing exploration, but it is more intuitive to obtain samples – the method is more direct,” Pei said. “Furthermore, there will be more means and more methods to study them on Earth.”
Space Station PLANS
China, which made its first landing on the farthest part of the moon last year and launched a robotic probe on Mars in July this year, has other space targets in its sights. It aims to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.
“From next year, we will be carrying out the launch mission of our National Space Station,” said the deputy commander of the Long March-5 carrier rocket, Qu Yeiguang.
Asked when China was planning to place astronauts on the moon, Pei said any decision would be based on scientific needs as well as technical and economic conditions, which say: “I think the future Lunar exploration activities must be done in conjunction with humans. ” machine. “
Matt Siegler, a research scientist at the Arizona-based Planetary Science Institute who is not part of the Chang’e-5 mission, called the Moon’s spacecraft the Rumker volcanic region where the spacecraft is 1-2 billion years old.
“It’s too young for the moon – most of our specimens are 3.5 billion years old or more,” Siegler said in an email, noting that the area and other similar people represented “late-stage volcanoes” when the moon I had enough internal heat for this kind of activity.
“We want to find out what’s special in these regions and why they stayed warmer than the rest of the moon.”
The United States, which currently plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, landed 12 astronauts in its Apollo program in six flights from 1969 to 1972 and returned 382 kg (842 lb) of rocks and mud Brought
The Soviet Union deployed three successful robotic lunar sample-return missions in the 1970s. The last, Luna 24, sampled about 170 grams (6 ounces) in 1976 from an area called Mare Crisium.
Reporting by Martin Quinn Pollard; Additional reporting by Ryan Wu; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Will Dunham