Chinese spacecraft sets off to retrieve rock samples from the moon

Photo: Tingshu Wang/Reuters

China has launched a spacecraft to bring back rocks from the moon the first country to attempt since the 1970s.

China’s largest carrier rocket, The Long March-5 set off at 4:30 am Beijing time on Tuesday from Wenchang space launch centre on the island of Hainan.

Named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, will attempt to collect lunar material to help scientists understand more about the moon’s origins. It’s more than 40 years since the Soviets and Americans brought lunar rock for examination.

Photo: CNSA

China aims to be only the third country to accomplish this feat. If successful China will be the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, joining the United States and the Soviet Union. A spokesman for the mission, Pei Zhaoyu said the landing is gonna take place in 8 days and the entire mission is scheduled for about 23 days.

The plan is to drill into the lunar surface and scoop out soil and rocks using a robotic artificial arm. The material would be transported to the ascender vehicle, which is scheduled to carry it from the surface and then dock with an orbiting module.

The process involves an orbiter, a lander-ascender, and a return component that uses a capsule to survive a fast and hot entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Source: BBC News