Space: The Chinese Chang'e-5 spacecraft heading to the Moon!

24 Novembre, 2020, 20:07 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The moon

China launched a robotic spacecraft on Tuesday that aims to bring rocks back from the moon, the first time any country has tried to retrieve lunar samples in more than four decades in a mission that underscores the country's space ambitions.

The unmanned Chang'e-5 probe, named after the mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan, near the country's southern tip, in the early morning. The spacecraft was launched by a Long March-5 rocket at 4.30 am (Beijing Time).

China was late to the space race - it didn't send its first satellite into orbit until 1970, by which time the USA had already landed an astronaut on the moon - but it has caught up fast. It would also be the first such mission since 1976.

Earlier, a Sputnik correspondent reported that the Chang'e 5 lunar mission was successfully launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center in Wenchang, in China's Hainan island province.

Chinese technicians were making final preparations Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, to launch a Long March-5 rocket carrying a mission to bring back material from the lunar surface in a potentially major advance for the country's space program.

After being captured by the Moon's gravity, the spacecraft will enter the lunar orbit, which is about 200 kilometers from the Moon.

The Chinese mission aims to drill down 2 meters into the moon's surface and collect at least 2 kilograms of rocks and other material, the US space agency NASA says.

Within 48 hours of the lander-ascender's touchdown, its robotic arm will scoop up rocks from the surface, and a drill will bore into the ground to collect soil. About 2 kg of samples are expected to be collected and sealed in a container in the spacecraft. According to NASA, the ascender will then dock on the service capsule, at which point the samples will be transferred to the return capsule. After the lander's ascent and meeting with the orbiter, Chang'e-5 will ferry the Moon rocks and dust back to a landing site in Inner Mongolia. It will then use a rocket to rejoin the re-entry module in orbit and hand off the samples, with the re-entry module to then carry them back to Earth.

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The whole flight will last more than 20 days.

January 2019: The Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched successfully arrives at the far side of the Moon. "Its success will help us acquire the basic capabilities for future deep space exploration such as sampling and takeoff from Mars, asteroids and other celestial bodies".

China is also planning to build a base on the moon with the country aiming to establish a lunar mission by 2029. "It will be very hard", said Peng Jing, deputy chief designer of the Chang'e-5 probe from the China Academy of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

"This was an incredible feat - and today we've advanced both science and engineering and our prospects for future missions to study these mysterious ancient storytellers of the solar system", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.

"That is very young for the moon - most of our samples are 3.5 billion years old or more", Siegler said in an email.

The scientific goals of the Chang'e-5 mission include the investigation of the landing area to obtain the on-site analysis data related to the lunar samples, as well as systematic and long-term laboratory analysis of the lunar samples.

It was the second Chinese probe to land on the Moon, following the Yutu ("Jade Rabbit") rover mission in 2013.

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