SHANGHAI, Dec. 6 – A Chinese probe carrying samples from the lunar surface has successfully docked today, a spacecraft orbiting the moon, the first of its kind in the country.
The plot was part of a Chang-5 mission named after an ancient Chinese moon goddess to bring back the first lunar samples in four decades.
The cargo capsule, which carries moonstones and soil, was lifted from the surface on Thursday and docked in orbit this morning, the official Xinhua news agency quoted China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) as saying.
Xinhua said it was China’s first “merger and docking of the lunar orbit.”
The cargo capsule also exits Thursday from the cargo surface: the first liftoff of the Chinese carcass from an alien body.
The capsule will carry samples of the moon into orbit, separate it and return to Earth, Xinhua said.
China wants to connect with the United States and Russia after decades of adjusting to its achievements, spending billions of dollars on a military space program.
Its space agency had previously said that the Chinese flag had been hoisted on the lunar surface before the lift.
Scientists hope that the samples from Chang-5 will help them learn more about the origin of the Moon and the volcanic activity on its surface.
If the return voyage is successful, China will become the third country to retrieve samples from the moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. – AFP