Chang'e 5 makes first step in journey home

By ZHAO LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-03 23:30
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The lander-ascender combination of Chang'e 5 robotic lunar probe finished gathering lunar samples and packed them in a vacuum container on Wednesday night. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The lunar samples collected by China's Chang'e 5 robotic mission have set out on their journey to Earth after the craft conducted late Thursday night the first-ever moon-based space launch by any Chinese space vehicle.

The lunar rocks and soil gathered by Chang'e 5's lander-ascender combination are scheduled to land at a preset site in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region in mid-December, completing the world's first endeavor in 44 years to bring lunar substances back to Earth.

According to the China National Space Administration, the ascender carrying the samples activated a 3,000-newton-thrust engine at 11:10 pm on Thursday to lift itself to an elliptical lunar orbit, marking the first time for a Chinese spacecraft to blast off from an extraterrestrial body.

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