China completes its first-ever docking in lunar orbit - GulfToday

China completes its first-ever docking in lunar orbit


This picture shows a Chinese national flag unfurled from the Chang'e-5 lunar probe. CNSA via CNS/AFP

Gulf Today Report

A Chinese probe that, successfully docked on Sunday with a spacecraft orbiting, landed on the moon transferred rocks in preparation for returning samples of the lunar surface to Earth in another space first for the nation.

The space agency announced that for the first time the Chinese cargo capsule carrying lunar rocks and soil lifted off from the surface on Thursday, and docked with the orbiter on Sunday morning.


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The upper stage of the Change’e lander blasted off Friday from the lunar surface. If the mission succeeds, it will make China the third country after the United States and former Soviet Union to bring moon rocks to Earth.

This combination of two pictures created shows an illustration (top) and a photo (bottom) of the ascender of China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe completing a rendezvous and docking with the orbiter-returner combination. CNSA via CNS/AFP

Xinhua said it was China's first "rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit".

The cargo capsule's departure from the lunar surface on Thursday was also a first: the first liftoff of a Chinese craft from an extraterrestrial body.

The capsule transferred the moon samples to the orbiter, which will separate and return to Earth, Xinhua said.

China is looking to catch up with the United States and Russia after taking decades to match their achievements, and has poured billions into its military-run space programme.

This picture shows the orbiter of China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe approaching the ascender. CNSA via CNS/AFP

Its space agency said previously that "before liftoff, the Chinese flag was raised on the moon's surface".

Scientists hope the samples from Chang'e-5 will help them learn more about the Moon's origins and volcanic activity on its surface.

If the return journey is successful, China will become only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

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