According to satellite images and the ship’s tracking data, China is preparing to launch the Chang’e-5 lander mission, a mission to collect and return evidence from the moon. SpaceNews.
The components of the Long March 5 missile launching the mission are on their way to the Wenchang satellite launch center, where the launch will take place. According to SpaceNews estimates, the launch could take place at the end of November.
China is using the same two specialized cargo ships it used to transport missile parts used to launch the mission to Mars in July, according to SpaceNews.
The mission will try to return about two kilograms of evidence from the moon
Chang’e-5 will try to explore the area around Mons Rümker, a volcanic formation on the western edge of the nearby part of the Moon. The area is expected to contain much more recent geological features than samples returned during NASA’s Apollo missions.
The complex mission involves four spaceships, with a service module that provides propulsion. Once on the moon, the mission lander will collect evidence and place it in an ascent vehicle. It will take off and dock with the service module orbiting the Moon, using a robotic lunar orbit mechanism.
Its predecessor, Chang’e-4, became the first lunar probe to reach the far side of the Moon in January 2019. It spent many lunar days exploring the rockier, much less understood, part of our nearest neighbor.
Chang’e-5 will spend only half a day a month, about 14 days on Earth, to land and test the lunar surface. An ascent vehicle will then leave the lunar surface, if all goes according to plan, and meet the mission service module. Thus, in the end, the evidence from the Moon will make its way back to Earth inside a return module.