China awaits probe's return to Earth with Moon rocks

China awaits probe's return to Earth with Moon rocks

And because of the restricted energy source of Chang'e 5, the probe would have little more than one lunar day to complete its mission - the average of 14 Earth days.

The goal of China's mission to the Moon is to obtain and return to Earth some 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of lunar rock and soil.

"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. The lunar probe left Earth for the moon and arrived at the lunar surface on Tuesday to gather lunar soil and rocks as well as use its ground-breaking radar to scan the soil for signs of water and minerals.

Under the Artemis lunar exploration project, NASA is working toward its goals of sending astronauts back to the surface of the Moon by 2024 and establishing sustainable lunar surface exploration with its commercial and global partners by 2028. An engine, after working for about six minutes, pushed the ascender to preset lunar orbit, said Xing Zhuoyi, a designer of the Chang'e-5 probe from the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

The landing site is close to a form called the Mons rumbler and may contain rocks billions of years younger than previously restored. The capsule will rendezvous with an unmanned orbiter and return the samples to Earth.

The ascent vehicle lifted off from the moon shortly after 11 p.m. Beijing time Thursday (1500 GMT) and was due to rendezvous with a return vehicle in lunar orbit, then transfer the samples to a capsule, according to the China National Space Administration.

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The orbiter will remain in space, while the return capsule is expected to fall in northern China's Inner Mongolia region in about two weeks.

The ascending vehicle would lift off from the lunar surface with the samples, and dock with a module now orbiting around the moon.

Under the Artemis program, NASA plans to land a man and a woman on the Moon by 2024 and lay the groundwork for sustainable exploration and an eventual mission to Mars.

"But China is about to showcase our own national flag as well, which I believe is a recognition of the achievements and breakthroughs that we have made, which will be the most valuable thing", Song Zhongping, a Chinese space official stated.

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

China's state media agency, Xinhua, reported the landing citing the China National Space Administration.

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