China’s Chang’e-5 approaches Earth with lunar samples

Artist’s impression of Chang’e-5 leaving Moon

China’s ambitious lunar sample return spacecraft Chang’e 5 (orbiter and returner) has entered the Moon-Earth transfer orbit on 13th December, after successfully completing two orbital maneuvers.

According to China National Space Administration (CNSA), at about 230 kilometres above the surface of Moon, orbiter and returner fired four engines and shot into Moon-Earth transfer orbit at 9:51 AM Beijing time.

Then, after about twenty two minutes engines were shut off as the spacecraft (orbiter and returner) successfully entered the required orbit.

The Moon-Earth transfer orbit (or Hohmann Transfer) is a fuel efficient orbital maneuver which allows a satellite/spacecraft to transfer from one orbit to other by using minimum possible fuel.

The combined orbiter and sample return vehicle has now escaped the Moon’s gravity and are moving on their path back to home. Soon at about 5,000 kilometres from Earth, the orbiter and returner vehicle will separate from each other.

Before the returner alone begins its final descend to Earth, a skip entry maneuver will be performed. After that the returner along with lunar samples is expected to land in the Ulanqab region of Inner Mongolia, China, on 16/17 December 2020.

The samples will be the first to retrieved back since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 probe in 1976. If successful, China will become third country (after United States and Soviet Union) to retrieve lunar samples to Earth.

Chang’e 5- a Chinese spacecraft on duty to bring lunar rock and soil samples to Earth, is an ongoing robotic mission of the ambitious “Chinese Lunar Exploration Program”.

Launched on November 23, 2020, Chang’e 5 landed on the Moon’s near side on December 1, 2020. The samples were collected both below the lunar surface and on the surface. The materials are 1.2 billion years old- the youngest ever to be collected from the Moon.




The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be…

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

To Make Earth, Earth Again!

We live on Earth which is in Space. We owe so much to our home planet.

Why the oldest rocks on Earth are way older than the Earth

Why the oldest rocks on Earth are way older than the Earth

StarTerra x DragonSB Social Power Contest

Our Solar System is more crowded than you may realize

Is SpaceX the first ever space company in the world?

Space Tech Conference Free to Attend as the Major Industry Event Launches in California

The Intriguing Elon Musk Connects with NASA on this Epic Launch into Space

Dr. Tana Dale Joseph: An Astronomical Journey

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Absolute Cosmos

Absolute Cosmos

The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be…

More from Medium

Good News Roundup

Enforcement of new antibiotics legislation vital to our future health

Biofuels Are Made From What?!

Ancient Glacial Lake had Massive Impact on Climate, Slowed Warming of Earth