China’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft has successfully landed on the Moon in a mission to retrieve lunar rock samples, state media reported on Tuesday.
The spacecraft, which launched on November 23, made the landing on the nearside of the Moon, according to China’s National Space Administration (CNSA).
This video broadcast by China’s state-run CCTV network appears to show Chang’e 5’s landing on the moon.Landing was expected to occur at 10:13am EST (1513 GMT). We’re standing by for further information from China.https://t.co/8AYSFU3dXEpic.twitter.com/SkFcIIUx0e
If successful, the Chinese mission will be the first of its kind to retrieve lunar samples and bring them back to Earth since 1976, when the Soviet Union’s unmanned Luna collected soil from the surface of the Moon.
On Monday it was reported that China’s space administration had already reached the crucial stage of separating the spacecraft’s lander module from the main orbital module during lunar orbit.
The Chang’e-5 lander reportedly initiated a powered descent – meaning, a rocket-powered landing – at 9:58am Eastern Time, completing the manoeuvre near the Moon’s Mons Rumker volcanic area.
The craft is now set to embark on the next stage of the mission to collect samples from the lunar surface over the next few hours by drilling down around two meters into the Moon’s surface and scooping up to 2kg of material, which will then be loaded into the ascent vehicle and launched to meet the lunar orbit module to catch a ride back to Earth.
The moon has become a renewed focal point for space research and exploration, with a number of space agencies planning lunar missions, including manned ones, in the coming years.
America’s NASA has said it intends to launch the Artemis 3 mission in October 2024, in a bid to boast the first manned lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972. Both China and the US also have longer-term space projects in the pipeline, with both countries eyeing up more permanent lunar outposts. NASA announced its Artemis Base Camp this year, while China has said it plans to build a research station at the lunar south pole by the end of the decade.
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