Special coverage of China's Chang'e-5 landing operation

James Marshall
December 1, 2020

A Chinese robotic spacecraft is poised to land on the moon as early as Wednesday, in the first bid by any country to retrieve lunar surface samples since the 1970s.

Launched on November 24, Chang'e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in China's aerospace history, as well as the world's first moon-sample mission for more than 40 years.

The mission will attempt to collect 2 kg (4-1/2 lbs) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms". Furthermore, it will make China the third nation to bring samples back from the moon, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Chang'e-5, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner, has carried out two orbital corrections during the Earth-Moon transfer, achieving its expected goals.

The orbiter reentry combination capsule will then return to the Earth's orbit, where the pair will break up and the reentry capsule will conduct a series of complicated maneuvers to return to a preset landing site in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in mid-December.

China made its first lunar landing in 2013. In January past year, the Chang'e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon, the first space probe from any nation to do so.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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