Chinese spacecraft returns to Earth carrying moon rocks

In this China National Space Administration photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a simulated image of the ascender of Chang’e-5 spacecraft blasting off from the lunar surface at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing on Dec. 3, 2020. The Chinese lunar probe lifted off from the moon Thursday night with a cargo of lunar samples on the first stage of its return to Earth, state media reported. | AP

The capsule of the Chang’e 5 probe landed in the Siziwang district of the Inner Mongolia region, state media reported shortly after 2:00 a.m. on Thursday. BEIJING — A Chinese lunar spacecraft capsule returned to Earth Thursday with the first fresh samples of rock and debris from the moon in more than 40 years
The capsule of the Chang’e 5 probe landed in the Siziwang district of the Inner Mongolia region, state media reported shortly after 2:00 a.m.
The capsule earlier separated from its orbiter module and performed a bounce off the Earth’s atmosphere to reduce its speed before passing through and floating to the ground on parachutes.
Two of the Chang’e 5’s four modules set down on the moon on Dec. 1 and collected about 4.4 pounds of samples by scooping them from the surface and by drilling about 6 feet into the moon’s crust.
The samples were deposited in a sealed container that was carried back to the return module by an ascent vehicle.
The successful mission was the latest breakthrough for China’s increasingly ambitious space program that includes a robotic mission to Mars and plans for a permanent orbiting space station.
Recovery crews had prepared helicopters and off-road vehicles to home-in on signals emitted by the lunar spacecraft to locate it in the darkness shrouding the vast snow-covered region in China’s far north, long been used as a landing site for China’s Shenzhou crewed spaceships.
The spacecraft’s return marked the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 robot probe in 1976.

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