BEIJING (Sputnik) – China’s Chang’e 5 lunar lander and ascent vehicle have successfully detached from the orbital module and are getting ready to land on the Moon in order to collect soil samples, the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.
The orbital service module and the Earth-return capsule will remain in orbit, waiting for the ascent vehicle to bring lunar samples collected by the lander. The return capsule will then need to bring the samples back to Earth. The mission is expected to conclude around December 16-17.
On November 24, the Chang’e 5 lunar sample-return mission was successfully launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center in Wenchang, in China’s Hainan island province, using the Chinese heavy-lift launch vehicle Chang Zheng 5 (Long March 5). The Chang’e 5 spacecraft successfully entered the orbit of the Moon on Saturday.
The Chang’e 5 lunar mission is China’s first-ever sample return mission. If fully successful, it will become the first lunar sample return mission to be completed since 1976, when the Soviet Union carried out the Luna 24 robotic probe mission to the Moon.