China plans moon-sampling mission for November

January 27, 2017 5:40 pm

This handout photo released by the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences shows a high-resolution image of the surface on the moon shot by Chinese Chang’e 3 lunar exploration probe, and Yutu rover. (Via Xinhua)

plans to send a robot attached to a rocket to the moon to bring back samples of the lunar surface.
The rocket, named Chang’e 5, is scheduled to take off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southern province of Hainan at the end of November, according to China’s state-run Xinhua agency.  
The mission will be fulfilled in three strategic steps and five stages. Orbiting, landing and returning are the three steps that will be carried out in the five stages.
In the first stage, a robot craft hitched atop China’s Long March-5 booster will take off and land on the moon.
In stage two, a rover-lander will gather lunar samples into a container on the ascender, which will take off from the moon surface and dock on the orbiter near the returner, which will be circling around the moon, in stage three.
In stage four, the samples’ container will be transferred from the ascender to the returner.
In the fifth and final stage, the returner will take off from the orbiter and return to earth.
The mission will be the first attempt to bring lunar material back to earth since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 spacecraft carried out a similar mission in 1976.
The former Soviet Union successfully carried out three robotic sample-return missions in the 1970s, bringing back notable amounts of lunar samples.
Before them, NASA’s Apollo astronauts landed on the moon six times from 1969 to 1972. They brought more than hundreds of kilograms of lunar material with them back to earth.
Last year, China’s chief engineer at the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, Tian Yulong, said Beijing was in discussion with other countries “for human beings’ landing on the moon in the future.”
He said Beijing is hoping “to build bases and carry out scientific investigations on the moon.”
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