Shanghai: According to official media reports, on Sunday, a Chinese probe carrying samples of the lunar surface successfully docked with a spacecraft orbiting the moon. This was the country’s first entry into space.
The manoeuvre was part of the ambitious Chang’e-5 mission — named after a mythical Chinese Moon goddess — to bring back the first lunar samples in four decades.
The cargo capsule carrying lunar rocks and soil lifted off from the surface on Thursday, and docked with the orbiter on Sunday morning, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
Xinhua News Agency said that this is China’s first “lunar rendezvous and docking”.
It was also the first time that the cargo hold took off from the surface of the moon on Thursday: this was the first time that Chinese crafts were lifted from an extraterrestrial object.
Xinhua News Agency said that the space capsule transferred the lunar sample to the orbiter, which will separate and return to Earth.
After decades of hard work, China hopes to catch up with the United States and Russia and has invested billions of dollars in its military space program.
Its space agency said previously that “before liftoff, the Chinese flag was raised on the moon’s surface”.
Scientists hope the samples from Chang’e-5 will help them learn more about the Moon’s origins and volcanic activity on its surface.
If the return journey is successful, China will become only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.