China To Launch New Lunar Probe ‘Chang’e-5’, To Bring Back Rocks From The Moon

First Posted: Jan 24, 2017 03:42 AM EST

China plans to launch the Chang'e-5 lunar mission aboard the heavy-lift carrier rocket Long March-5 in November this year. The probe will reportedly be the first to collect samples from the Moon's surface and bring these back to Earth.

According to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), there are a lot of firsts that will be associated with the upcoming lunar probe. The mission will be China's first automated Moon surface sampling, first Moon take-off, first unmanned docking in a lunar orbit about 3.80 lakh km from Earth and first return flight in a speed close to second cosmic velocity, as reported by the Deccan Chronicle.

China aims to accomplish three strategic steps with the launch of Chang'e-5, namely, orbiting, landing and returning. One of the leading aerospace experts in China and consultants to the upcoming program, Ye Peijian, has said that the lunar probe that will weigh 8.2 tons will comprise of four parts. These will include an orbiter, returner, ascender and a lander, according to official broadcaster CCTV.

After the Moon landing, the lander will put the lunar samples in a vessel inside the ascender, which will then take off from the Moon's surface for the orbiter and the returner orbiting the satellite. After the completion of the procedure, the orbiter and returner will head back to planet Earth.

The orbiter will separate from the returner several thousands of kilometers from Earth. Only the latter will re-enter the planet.

Meanwhile, CASC said that Chang'e-5's development has entered the end of its flight model phase. The associated work is progressing smoothly.

Incidentally, China also wants to launch the Chang'e-4 lunar mission in 2018 and carry out the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon. The successful completion of the feat will make it the first achievement of its kind by humans.  Additionally, the probe also wants to conduct in situ and roving detection and relay communications at Earth-Moon L2 point.

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