China launches probe to collect samples of the Moon for the first time since 1976 Long Rocket March 5 with the Chang’e 5 probe on the way to the Moon fair (23) a probe to the Moon is supposed to collect lunar rocks, the first such operation in over 40 years.
The “Long March 5” rocket that propelled the spacecraft was fired from the Wenchang space launch centre on the tropical island of Hainan (south), official media reported.
The launch was made discreetly. China does not normally announce a specific date or time, as it considers the space race to be a sensitive issue. The Chang’e 5 mission, named after a moon goddess in Chinese mythology, is the next step in China’s ambitious space program, which managed in early 2019 to land a spacecraft on the “hidden” side of the moon, a world first.
The probe that was sent this time was designed to collect dust and moon rocks, excavating the soil to the depth of 2 meters and then sending them back to Earth. These samples can help scientists better understand the history of the Moon.
It is the first attempt to bring moon rocks back since 1976, and the Luna 24 crewless mission successfully carried out by the former Soviet Union. The Chinese probe is expected to land on the moon in late November. The return of the samples to Earth should occur in mid-December. It is not the first time that China launches a spacecraft to the Moon.
The Chang’e 3 (in 2013) and Chang’e 4 (started in 2018) missions have already managed to land two small remote control robots, called “Jade Rabbits.”
The Asian giant is investing billions in its space program to reach Europe, Russia and the United States. In 2003 he sent his first astronaut into space, and in 2022 he hopes to set up a large space station. China also wants to send men to the moon in about ten years.