For more than 40 years, China has embarked on a mission to retrieve objects from the lunar surface for the first time – an initiative to help increase human understanding of the moon and the solar system.
Chang 5, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is the country’s most daring lunar mission to date. If successful, it could be a major breakthrough for China’s space program, and some experts say it could lead to the return of samples from Mars or a crude lunar mission.
Four modules of the Chang 5 spacecraft exploded on top of a large Long March-5Y rocket from the Wenchang launch site off the southern island province of Hainan.
Minutes after the lift, the spacecraft detaches from the first and second stages of the rocket and plunges into Earth-Moon transfer orbit. The spacecraft usually takes three days to reach the moon.
According to NASA, the main task of the mission is to dig two meters below the surface of the moon and bring back 2 kg of rocks and other debris to Earth. This will give scientists their first opportunity to study newly discovered lunar objects after the American and Russian missions of the 1960s and 1970s.
The time on the Chang 5 lander will be short and soft on the Moon. It can only last one lunar day or 14 Earth days, as there are no radioisotope heating units to cope with the lunar cold nights.
Long March-5 rocket on launch pad
The lander will drill its drill and robotic arm objects and turn them into what is called an ascent, which will be docked with a service capsule rising from the moon. The materials are then moved to the return capsule and carried back to Earth.
The mission is one of China’s most daring since it first launched a man into space in 2003, making it the third nation to do so after the US and Russia.
While many of China’s spaceflight achievements, including the construction of an experimental space station and space travel, have been rebuilt by other countries over the years, the China National Space Administration is moving to new territory.
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Chang 4, which made its first soft landing on a relatively unexplored part of the Moon about two years ago, collects the full amount of radiation exposure from a lunar eclipse, important for any country intending to send astronauts to the moon.
In July, China became one of three countries to launch a mission to Mars using an orbit and rover to search for signs of water on the red planet. Officials say the Tianwen 1 spacecraft will arrive on Mars in February.
China interacts more with foreign countries on missions, and the European Space Agency will provide important ground station information for Chang 5.
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