China has reached a major milestone as its Chang’e-5 spacecraft completed sampling on the Moon. The probe has lifted off from the lunar surface to return to Earth. It will bring back the lunar samples. This will be the first time in four decades when a space agency is bringing back lunar samples. If all goes as per the plan, China will become the third country to achieve this feat. The United States and the Soviet Union have only retrieved samples from the Moon. The last when a space agency had brought lunar samples to Earth was in 1976. The Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission had accomplished the feat.
With this, China will catch up with the US and Russia. According to China’s space agency, the Chang’e-5 spacecraft left the Moon on December 3 at 1510 GMT. China said that the module is carrying lunar rocks and soil. The Asian giant claimed that a Chinese flag was raised on the lunar surface before the spacecraft’s lift-off. It was launched by a powerful thrust engine. This is the first time when China has achieved take-off from an extraterrestrial body. Chinese scientists expect that the study of the lunar samples will help them understand Moon’s evolution and volcanic activity.
According to China, the spacecraft worked for 19 hours on Moon. The lunar rocks and soil were stowed in a container. The samples weigh 4.5 pounds. It said that Chang’e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in the country’s space history. The module will land on December 16 in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region. China said that it is now planning a crewed space station by 2022 and send humans to the Moon. China in 1970 launched its first satellite. It took more than 30 years for the country to develop a human spaceflight. It was in 2003 when China sent its first citizen, Yang Liwei, into space. In January 2019, China landed a lunar rover which bolstered its plan to launch a mission to return rocks and soil from the Moon.