Artist’s concept of Chang’e 5 entering lunar orbit. It’s China’s 1st moon-sample-return mission and the 1st for the world at large since 1976. Image via China Lunar Exploration Project.
After a journey lasting 112 hours, the Chang’e 5 spacecraft is now reported by space engineers in China to have entered orbit around the moon. The robotic mission is the first lunar sample-return mission since the 1970s. It launched last week (November 23, 2020) from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China’s Hainan province, rising into the sky atop a Long March 5 rocket. The China Lunar Exploration Program said earlier today:
At 20:58 on November 28, the Chang’e-5 probe flew to the moon for about 112 hours and successfully ignited a 3000 N engine at a distance of 400 kilometers from the lunar surface. About 17 minutes later, the engine shut down normally. According to the monitoring and judgment of real-time telemetry data, the Chang’e-5 probe braked normally in recent months and entered the orbit around the moon smoothly.
If all goes according to plan, the new and ambitious Chang’e 5 will haul pristine moon samples back to Earth in mid-December — something that hasn’t been done since the Soviet ...