China's Ambitious Moon Mission Off to Good Start

Probe lands, aims to bring back moon rocks
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 1, 2020 11:10 AM CST
China's Ambitious Moon Mission Off to Good Start
Flames and exhaust trail behind a Long March 5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission after it lifted off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang, in southern China's Hainan Province.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

(Newser) – A Chinese robot probe launched to return lunar rocks to Earth landed on the moon Tuesday, the government announced. Assuming all goes well, the mission will be the first in 40 years to retrieve moon rocks. The Chang'e 5 probe "successfully landed on the moon in the preselected landing area,” the official China News Service said, per the AP. The one-sentence report gave no more details.

The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the tropical southern island of Hainan, adds to a string of increasingly bold missions by a Chinese space program that aims eventually to land a human on the moon. Plans call for the robot lander to drill into the lunar surface and collect about 4 pounds of rocks and debris to bring back to Earth. (NASA just confirmed a major moon discovery.)

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