China’s Chang’e 5 mission has successfully landed at Mons Rümker on the Moon.
Just eight-days after blasting off from the ‘Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site’ in Southern China; the probe touched down today at Mons Rümker just after it’s final descent at 14:58 UTC.
The probe will now set about its primary mission of collecting nearly 2kg’s of samples to return to Earth.
While the automated landing seems to have been a success, the live stream was plunged into chaos after being cut just before the landing burn. CCTV, the Chinese state-controlled broadcaster, then announced coverage would resume at 21:00 EST – 11 hours after the planned landing time. However, officials on Twitter announced that the mission had gone ahead as planned and succeeded.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) December 1, 2020
While landing on any other celestial body is a difficult task China has a good track record landing on Moon. All four previous lunar missions have been successful, including two landings.
The probe will now immediately begin deploying its subsurface drill to break through the top layer of the lunar surface. The drilling should allow the probe to obtain samples from 2 meters below the immediate lunar surface.
If the subsurface drilling succeeds then early tomorrow morning the craft will begin scooping surface material. Loading around 2kg of material over a 22 hour period from both surface and subsurface locations.
This material will be secured inside the Ascent Stage, which will blast off from the moon on December 3rd at 15:10 UTC before rendezvousing with the Orbiter on 5 December.
The craft should return to Earth to land in Dorbod Banner, Inner Mongolia, People’s Republic of China on 16 December.
If the probe’s payload is returned safely China will become the third nation (after the USA and Soviet Union) to accomplished a lunar sample return.