China is preparing to launch its Chang’e-5 lunar return mission early next week – and has just launched the massive Long March 5 heavy rocket to launch into the launch site. SpaceNews reports.
The launch from the Wenchang satellite launch center is scheduled for November 24. The landing should land on the moon in mid-December.
If he succeeds, the mission will be a historic moment. So far, only the United States and the Soviet Union have been able to successfully return samples from the moon’s surface back to Earth. Now China may soon become the third – a vivid illustration of the country’s huge space ambitions.
The landing is aimed at a place near the place where its predecessor landed early last year, near a volcanic formation near the western end of the nearby side of the moon. The surrounding natural formations are far younger than those taken from Apollo’s samples in the 1960s and 1970s, according to SpaceNews.
Unlike Chang’e-4, Chang’e-5 will only have 14 Earth days – half a lunar day – to fulfill its mission, as it does not have a heater to heat it on a lunar night when temperatures can dropped to -280 Fahrenheit (-173 Celsius).
The country hopes to use what it will learn during the Chang’e-5 mission for future sampling missions near Earth, SpaceNews reports.
READ MORE: China launches the Long Long rocket on March 5 to launch a mission to return the Chang’e-5 lunar sample.[[SpaceNews]
More about the missions: China plans to launch a mission to return a lunar sample in November