The Chang-e 5 mission probe is the third Chinese to land on the moon.
6. Dec 2020 at 17:28 TASR
PEKING. After landing an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, China on Sunday managed to implement the first robot-controlled connection of the return module with a spacecraft in orbit.
The DPA informed about it.
The return module of the Chang-e 5 mission, which launched from the surface of the Moon on Thursday, successfully connected with the mother ship on Sunday morning in Beijing time, according to the state news agency Sinchua. Approximately two kilograms of lunar rock samples destined for transport to Earth were then safely stored in a return capsule.
This maneuver was considered one of the most difficult before flying back to Earth. China and its spacecraft have already made several approaches and connections in Earth’s orbit, but not 380,000 kilometers away.
After the landings of American missions with crews in the 60s and 70s, this is the first case in which a connecting maneuver was achieved in the orbit of the Moon, even without astronauts, writes the DPA.
The spacecraft disconnected from the return module again after the samples were moved. On Sunday, she continued to orbit the Moon, waiting for the right moment to begin the return flight. A landing on Earth is expected in mid-December in Inner Mongolia.
The Chang-e 5 mission probe is the third Chinese to land on the moon and the first to return to Earth. In addition, China sent a spacecraft carrying a robotic vehicle to Mars in July this year, according to the AP agency.
The goal of the Chang-e 5 unmanned mission, named after the ancient Chinese moon goddess, is to bring rock samples from the lunar surface to Earth for the first time in more than 40 years. So far, only the United States has succeeded, and most recently in 1976, the former Soviet Union.
Scientists hope these samples will provide new information about volcanic activity on the moon.
Experts also consider the Chang-e 5 mission to be an important technological test, for example for future manned flights to the moon.