A Chinese robotic probe sent to send lunar rocks back to Earth for the first time since the 1970s landed on the moon on Tuesday, the government said, adding to a series of increasingly daring space missions from Beijing.
The Chang’e 5 probe “successfully landed” at its intended site, state television and news agencies reported, citing China’s National Space Administration. They did not immediately announce more details.
The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the southern tropical island of Hainan, is the latest venture in a Chinese space program that put a human into orbit in 2003, has a probe en route to Mars, and ultimately aims to land a human on the moon. .
China successfully launches accelerated Land Rover mission to Mars
The plans call for the robotic lander to drill into the lunar surface and load 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and debris into an ascension stage that will fly off back to Earth.
The story continues under the ad
If successful, it will be the first time scientists have obtained new moon rock samples from a Soviet probe in the 1970s.
Mysterious Utah monolith disappears after visitors trash secret site
Another metallic monolith appears in Romania, then disappears
Chang’e 5 flight is China’s third successful lunar landing. Its predecessor, Chang’e 4, became the first probe to land on the little explored far side of the moon.
The latest flight includes collaboration with the European Space Agency, which helps monitor the mission.
China re-engages in lunar missions
The Chinese space program has proceeded more cautiously than the US-Soviet space race of the 1960s, marked by deaths and launch failures.
In 2003, China became the third country to put an astronaut into orbit on its own after the Soviet Union and the United States. He also launched a manned space station.
Space officials say they ultimately hope to land a human on the moon, but no timeline or other details have been announced.
China, along with its neighbors Japan and India, has also joined the growing race to explore Mars.
The Tianwen 1 probe launched in July is on its way to the Red Planet carrying a lander and a robot rover to search for water.
© 2020 The Canadian Press