30 November 2020 Community news

Chang'e 5 separates from spacecraft, prepares for a lunar soft landing

A screen grab from an animation of the Chang’e 5 mission showing the spacecraft in orbit around the moon. Image: CNSA
A screen grab from an animation of the Chang’e 5 mission showing the spacecraft in orbit around the moon. Image: CNSA

China's Chang'e-5 probe is preparing for a soft landing on the moon to undertake the country's first collection of samples from an extraterrestrial body.

The lander-ascender combination of the spacecraft separated from its orbiter-returner combination at 4:40 a.m. Monday (Beijing Time), according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Launched on 24 November, Chang'e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in China's aerospace history, as well as the world's first moon-sample mission for more than 40 years.

The spacecraft is performing well and communication with ground control is normal, CNSA said.

The lander-ascender combination will execute a soft landing on the moon and carry out automatic sampling. The orbiter-returner will continue orbiting about 200 kilometres above the lunar surface and wait for rendezvous and docking with the ascender.

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