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China launches lunar probe to bring back moon rocks – Times of India

BEIJING: China launched an unmanned spacecraft to bring back on Tuesday moon rocks – the first attempt by any country to collect samples from the Moon in four decades.
A March 5 long rocket carrying the Chang’e-5 probe, named after the mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, lifted off from the Wenchang Space Center in the southern island province of Hainan at 4:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. GMT Monday), announced the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing is investing billions in its military-run space program, with hopes of having a manned space station by 2022 and sending humans to the moon.
The objective of the mission is to shovel lunar rocks and soil to help scientists discover the origins, formation and volcanic activity of the Moon on its surface.
Television footage of the launch showed the rocket exploding on a dark night, with huge clouds of smoke billowing below.
Crowds watched the launch from the beach on the tropical Chinese island, holding cell phones in the air to film as the rocket exploded in the sky.
The initial mission, scheduled for 2017, was delayed due to an engine failure of the Long March 5 rocket.
If successful, China will be only the third country to collect samples from the Moon, after the United States and the Soviet Union in the 60s and 70s.
The Chinese probe will collect two kilograms (4.5 pounds) of surface material in a previously unexplored area known as Oceanus Procellarum – or “Ocean of Storms” – which consists of a vast lava plain, according to the Nature scientific journal.
The probe is expected to land in late November and collect material on a lunar day, or about 14 Earth days.
The samples will then be sent back to Earth in a capsule scheduled to land in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China in early December, according to the US space agency NASA.
– Movements of the moon – The mission is technically difficult and involves several innovations never seen in previous attempts to collect moon rocks, said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
“The United States never made a robotic sample return. The Soviet robot was very limited and could only land in certain restricted places,” McDowell told AFP.
“The Chinese system will be the most flexible and efficient robotic sample return system to date.”
A Chinese lunar rover landed on the other side of the Moon in January 2019, in a world first that bolstered Beijing’s ambitions to become a space superpower.
It was the second Chinese probe to land on the Moon, after the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) rover mission in 2013.
Chen Lan, an independent analyst at GoTaikonauts specializing in the Chinese space program, said the latest launch was a chance for China to develop technology that would be used in a future manned space landing and described it as “one of the riskiest missions launched. by China “.
“The Chang’e 5 The sample return mission is of course more complicated and difficult than all previous Chinese lunar missions, as it not only has to take off from the lunar surface and enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a higher speed, but also perform lunar orbit rendezvous and docking operations in lunar orbit, ”Chen told AFP.
The latest Chang’e-5 probe is part of a series of ambitious goals set by Beijing, including the creation of a super powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those of NASA and the rocket company private. SpaceX can manage, a lunar base, a space station with permanent crew, and a March vagabond.

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