Chinese spacecraft is returning to Earth with lunar samples – Spaceflight Now


The depiction of Chang’s 5 missions is in the remaining trajectory toward the Earth, colored green, and the mission’s previous path around the moon, red. Sincerely: CNSA

A Chinese spacecraft drilled from the lunar surface is to bring the rocks back to Earth on Wednesday and give scientists the first fresh lunar samples since the 1970s.

The return spacecraft of the Chang 5 mission is in the home stretch of a 23-day mission that successfully launched China’s most powerful rocket on 23 November. The moon landed on 1 December, collected samples, then flew again on 3 December. Complete the first automatic docking between two robotic spacecraft around another planetary body.

Chang’s 5’s Ascender vehicle was paired with the mission’s return spacecraft Dec. 5, then transferred the capsule containing the Moon’s rocks to the return craft before Jaitlisson and deliberately crashed into the Moon.

With those steps completed, all that is left is to bring the lunar specimens back to Earth.

According to the China National Space Administration, the Chang5’s return spacecraft fired thrusters to raise its orbit around the moon on Friday, then maneuver the final departure at 8:51 am EST Saturday (0151 GMT Sunday). A 22-minute maneuver with four small thrusters provided Chang’s 5 return craft with the impulse needed to break free from the moon’s gravity.

The probe completed a course correction burn on Monday and hovering towards the Earth with the goal of landing in China’s Inner Mongolia region on Wednesday.

Chinese officials have not revealed the exact landing time, but public notices directing the pilots to clarify the mission’s recovery zone are active from 12:32 pm to 1:07 pm EST (1732-1807 GMT) – Remote landing area in the middle of the night.

Chang 5’s return spacecraft will release capsules carrying the rocks of the moon before entering the atmosphere.

The re-entry capsule will bounce the atmosphere into a “re-entry” to slow the craft before landing, reducing its initial entry velocity by 25,000 mph or 40,000 kilometers per hour, lower than the re-entry. Fast orbit the Earth. Chinese officials said skip re-entry before landing the parachute before landing would help reduce heat.

Artist concept of Chang 5 return spacecraft. Sincerely: CNSA

China’s state media reported on Tuesday that Chinese recovery crews are preparing for the arrival of lunar specimens in Inner Mongolia.

The Chang’5 sample return mission, if successful, would mark the first round-trip flight to the moon in 44 years. This is the first tmie lunar material returned to Earth since 1976, when the Soviet Union’s robot Luna 24 mission brought back about 170 grams, or 6 ounces, of about 170 grams of samples from the lunar surface.

Nine missions have returned samples of the moon to Earth, including NASA’s six Apollo missions with astronauts and three robotic Luna spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union. NASA’s Apollo mission brought 842 pounds (382 kg) of rocks back from the moon.

Chinese scientists will take lunar material to a climate-controlled facility to begin analysis on the rocks. Researchers hope to learn about the history and evolution of the Moon.

The goal of the Chang’e 5 mission was to collect more than 4 pounds, or 2 kilograms of rocks, to return to Earth. Chinese authorities have not released an estimate of how much material the spacecraft collects on the moon.

The Chang’e lunar program is named for the moon goddess in Chinese folklore.

The sample return mission follows earlier feats in China’s lunar exploration program. Recently, Chang’a 4 mission performed the first successful soft landing on the far side of the moon in January 2019. Chang’a 4 used deep space flight to bounce command and scientific data between ground teams using a dedicated data relay satellite. Spacecraft on lunar surface.

China’s next lunar mission, Chang 6, is similar to Chang’i 5. It may attempt a sample return mission to retrieve lunar rocks from a location near the moon’s south pole around 2023.

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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