China prepares to launch Long March-5 rocket for Chang'e-5 mission_china

James Marshall
November 20, 2020

Another time-lapse video uploaded by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation onto social media shows the rocket standing on the launch site after being carried over. In preparation, south China's Wenchang Space Launch Center rolled out the lunar probe's carrier, the Long March-5, to the launch pad.

Chang'e 5-the sixth mission in the Chang'e program, as there was an unnumbered experimental mission-will be one of the most hard and challenging space endeavors China has embarked on and will become the world's first space operation in more than four decades to bring lunar samples back to Earth. It took about two hours to vertically transport the large rocket to the launching area early Tuesday.

Over the past two months, it was assembled and examined at the center, the administration said, adding that when the final checks are done, propellants will be pumped into it.

The heavy-lift carrier rocket is scheduled to blast Beijing's latest lunar mission, the Chang'e 5, into orbit early next week.

The lander will collect moon samples and place them in a vessel aboard the ascender, which will dock with the orbiter and returner, orbiting the moon.

What is more hard for the job is "the short launch windows", according to Mao Wanbiao, deputy director of the Chang'e-5 mission launch center.

Chang'e-5, one of China's most ever ambitious space missions, is expected to return to earth by mid-December.

The first Chang'e probe was launched in October 2007. If the mission is successful, it will be the first spacecraft to bring back materials from the Moon in some 40 years.

"Taking it to the next level to return samples from the moon is an important technical ability", says Caroline Van Der Bogart, a planetary geologist at the University of Monster. In July, it successfully sent China's first Mars probe Tianwen-1 into the Earth-Mars transfer orbit.

The mission, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is among China's most ambitious as its space programme continues to build steam since it first put a man in space in 2003, becoming only the third nation to do so after the USA and Russian Federation.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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