China’s Chang’e-5 probe, to be launched by 2019-end, will undergo multiple flight phases before the mission is completed, the media reported.
China National Space Administration (CNSA) plans to launch the mission with the goal of collecting samples from the near side of the Moon. They would be the first samples to be retrieved since 1976, Xinhua news agency reported.
The probe will enter the Earth-Moon transfer orbit. It will slow near the Moon to enter the lunar orbit and descend and land on a pre-selected area for ground research work, including collecting lunar samples, Peng Jing, deputy chief designer from the China Academy of Space Technology said.
After finishing its work on the Moon, the ascender will rise from the lunar surface for rendezvous and docking with the orbiter flying around the Moon.
Then the returner will fly back to Earth via the Earth-Moon transfer orbit, re-enter the atmosphere and land at the Siziwang Banner (County) of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Peng said.
The lunar samples taken back by the probe would be sealed in a container and sent to labs for further analysis and research, he added.
The probe can be divided into 15 sub-systems, including structure, thermal control, antenna, sample collecting and sealing and propulsion. It is composed of an orbiter, a returner, a lander and an ascender, the report said.
Named after Chinese moon goddess “Chang’e”, China’s lunar exploration programme, which began in 2004, includes orbiting and landing on the moon and bringing samples back to Earth.
The programme has achieved five continuous successes, said CNSA, referring to Chang’e-1, Chang’e-2, Chang’e-3, a test craft for Chang’e-5 and the recent Chang’e-4, which realised the first-ever soft-landing on the far side of the Moon.
The Chang’e-5 probe will be launched from Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan Province.
The space agency is also working to carry out its first-ever Mars exploration mission around 2020.
These plans underscore China’s ambitions in space at a time when the US is curtailing NASA’s budget and increasingly handing over space exploration to commercial adventurers. (IANS)