According to the Chinese state-run CGTN news channel, China’s National Space Administration declared on Tuesday morning that it’s “Chang’e-5 successfully landed on the near side of moon.”
Chang’e 5, China’s first-ever attempt to collect lunar rocks and conduct a return mission back to Earth, apparently touched down this morning. Not much on the landing was conveyed by CGTN, who only offered a single-sentence statement.
Over the next few days, the Chang’e 5 mission will be tasked with using a robotic arm, from the lander, to drill into the lunar surface to collect about four pounds of moon rocks, storing them in a container on the ascent module on top of the lander. Then Chang’e-5’s second takeoff will blast the ascent module to the service module in orbit, and both crafts will then head back to Earth.
BBC News’ Jonathan Amos tweets a CCTV clip of Chang’e 5 approaching the lunar surface.
The Verge said the craft could return to Earth “around December 16th or 17th. China is targeting somewhere in Inner Mongolia for the landing spot.”
If all goes well, China will become one of three countries to retrieve rock samples from the lunar surface.
It’s becoming pretty clear why President Trump launched Space Force as it appears both the US and China have competing interests on the moon.
To remind readers, apparently, the moon has an abundance of rare earth metals.