China moon mission collects lunar sample ahead of schedule

21 Janvier, 2021, 16:26 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • China releases its flag to the moon as a spacecraft carrying lunar rocks is thrown away

"Yesterday's memory is still fresh and clear, when the USA astronauts stepped outside their cabins and planted the first flag in human history, an American national flag, on the moon in 1969", said Chinese aerospace expert Song Zhongping to The Global Times.

Andrew Jones, a journalist based in Finland who's been tracking every step of Chang'e-5's mission, said in a tweet that the successful rendezvous and docking was a "massive step towards bringing home fresh lunar samples".

The Chang'e-5 spacecraft has accomplished a number of firsts for Beijing, including the first extraterrestrial takeoff and first independent placement of a Chinese flag on an extraterrestrial body.

The Chang'e 5 touched down Tuesday on the Sea of Storms on the moon's near side.

"With Chang'e 5, China has launched an effort to join the U.S. and the former Soviet Union in obtaining lunar samples", the United States space agency NASA tweeted on the day of Chang'e's launch.

China launched a robotic spacecraft on November 24 to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve samples since 1976.

It would also establish a legal precedent that would pave the way for companies to mine celestial bodies in an effort blessed by the USA government to help build a sustainable presence on the moon and elsewhere.

A module carrying lunar rocks and soil was in orbit after activating a powerful thrust engine, Chinese officials said of the mission, which was launched from the southern Hainan province. Moon rocks and debris were sealed inside a special bottle to avoid contamination.

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The ascender will next separate from the reentry capsule, which will then fly back to an Earth orbit, together with an orbiter, the administration said.

Chinese mission that landed on Moon has transferred rocks to an orbiter which is due to land in northern grasslands in Inner Mongolia region in mid-December. Ispace Europe SA plans to send a lander to the lunar south pole in 2023 for collection, with the same per-sample price tag.

Although its main task was to retrieve the samples, the lander was equipped to take detailed photographs of the landscape and to analyze ground conditions by radar penetrating below the surface and lunar soil analysis for minerals and water contents below the surface.

China launched its first temporary orbiting laboratory in 2011 and a second in 2016.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that it has awarded contracts to both ispace, inc.

A container with 2 kilogrammes (4.4 pounds) of rocks was transferred to the orbiter 30 minutes later.

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