Chang’e-5 Lunar Sample Lands in China

Chang’e-5 capsule after landing under parachute in Inner Mongolia.

BEIJING (CNSA PR) — At 1:59 on December 17, Beijing time, the lunar exploration project Chang’e-5 returner successfully landed in the planned area of ​​Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia, marking the successful completion of our country’s first extraterrestrial celestial body sampling and return mission.

At about 1 am, the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center injected high-precision navigation parameters into the Chang’e-5 orbiter and returner combination through the ground measurement and control station. After that, the orbiter and the returner were normally unlocked and separated at a height of about 5,000 kilometers above the sea level of the South Atlantic, and the orbiter completed the evasion maneuver as planned.

At 1:33 in the morning, the Chang’e-5 returner entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a high speed close to the second cosmic speed (about 11.2 kilometers per second) at a height of about 120 kilometers above the ground, and performed the first aerodynamic deceleration. After descending to a predetermined height, the retractor jumps up out of the atmosphere and begins to glide down after reaching the highest point. After that, the returner enters the atmosphere again and performs a second aerodynamic deceleration. 

When descending to a height of about 10 kilometers above the ground, the retractor opened the parachute to complete the final deceleration and maintain a stable attitude, and then landed smoothly in the predetermined area. The technical personnel of the measurement, control and recovery system responsible for the search and recovery task discover the target in time and carry out the recovery work in an orderly manner.

According to the plan, the recovered Chang’e-5 returner will be airlifted to Beijing to open the cabin after completing the necessary ground handling work to take out the sample container and the cargo. The National Space Administration will choose the opportunity to hold a handover ceremony to officially hand over lunar samples to the ground application system. Our country’s first extraterrestrial celestial body sample storage, analysis and research related work will also start.

The Chang’e-5 probe was launched at the Wenchang Space Launch Site in China on November 24 and entered the Earth-Moon transfer orbit. The probe implemented two orbit corrections and two near-moon braking, and successfully entered a circular orbit around the moon. Since then, the probe has undergone separation of the assembly, circumnavigation of the orbit, and power descent.

The lander and ascender assembly landed in a preselected area on the front of the moon on December 1 and carried out sampling work. On December 3, the ascender took off and entered orbit accurately. The rendezvous and docking with the orbiter and returner assembly and the transfer of samples were completed on the 6th.

After that, the ascender was separated as planned and controlled for landing. From December 12th to 16th, after the orbiter and returner assembly completed two lunar-to-earth transfer incidents and two orbit corrections, the returner separated from the orbiter and returned to Earth on December 17th.

Experts from the National Space Administration said that the Chang’e-5 probe has continuously achieved the first lunar surface sampling, lunar takeoff, lunar orbital rendezvous and docking, and sample return in the history of our country’s aerospace in a single mission, which is a lunar exploration project for our country. The three-step development plan of winding, falling, and returning has come to a successful conclusion.

At the same time, as our country’s most complex aerospace system project with the largest technological span, the Chang’e-5 mission has successfully achieved various technological innovations and breakthroughs in a series of key technologies.

It is important for our country to improve the level of aerospace technology, improve the lunar exploration engineering system, and develop the lunar system. Scientific research and the organization of follow-up lunar and interstellar exploration missions are of great significance as a link between the past and the future.