Chinese spacecraft returning to Earth with first moon samples

The Long March 5 rocket is carrying on the launch pad at the Wenchang space launch site in Henan. The 8.2-ton Variation 5 probe, which includes a lander, an ascender, a service module and a return capsule, is the sixth mission of the Chinese lunar exploration program Transformation. The mission aims to collect lunar soil and rock samples from Oceanus Procellarum and bring them back to Earth. If successful, Change 5 will be the first sample-return mission since 1976.

Alexei Ivanov | TASS | Getty Images

Guangzhou, China – A Chinese spacecraft carrying lunar samples has exploded from the moon and is preparing to return to Earth.

This is the first time China has launched a spacecraft from a supernatural body and the first time it has collected samples of the moon. If the moon samples make it back to Earth, China will be only the third country in the world after the efforts of the Soviet Union in the 1960s and the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

According to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, at 23:10 Beijing time on Thursday, the Chang’-5 spacecraft flew from the moon. The spacecraft was successfully launched in a predetermined orbit around the moon.

The probe will team up with a returning spacecraft to regain Earth and is expected to land in China’s Inner Mongolia region around mid-December.

China has increased its space efforts over the years. President Xi Jinping urged China to make the industry “a great space power as soon as possible” earlier this year, according to the state-backed China Daily.

In June, China launched the last satellite to meet its rival, the Beidou, a US government-owned global positioning system (GPS), which is widely used worldwide.

And in July, China also started an ambitious mission on Mars, called Tianwen-1.


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