China completes lunar sample collection ahead of schedule

WION Web Team
Beijing, China Published: Dec 03, 2020, 01:59 PM(IST)

China lunar mission Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

China launched a robotic spacecraft on November 24 to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve samples since 1976.

China's Chang'e-5 lunar vehicle has finished collecting samples of lunar rocks and soil ahead of schedule.

China launched a robotic spacecraft on November 24 to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve samples since 1976.

The robotic vehicle has stored the samples and will now dock with the orbiting Chang'e-5 for the return journey to Earth, the country's space agency said on Thursday.

The sample collection was completed after 19 hours, the space agency said in its statement, without disclosing the total weight of the samples collected.

Late on Tuesday, the Chang'e-5 spacecraft successfully deployed a pair of landing and ascending vehicles onto the moon's surface. The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 pounds) of samples. China had planned to collect the samples over a period of about two days, with the entire mission taking around 23 days.

The ascending vehicle would lift off from the lunar surface with the samples, and dock with a module currently orbiting around the moon. The samples would then be transferred to a return capsule onboard the orbiting module for delivery back to Earth.

If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.

China made its first lunar landing in 2013.

In January 2019, the Chang'e-4 probe landed on the far side of the moon, the first space probe from any nation to do so.

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