China Successfully Lands Chang'e-5 Lunar Sample Mission on the Moon

The mission will return samples of moon rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.
December 1, 2020, 4:04pm
China Successfully Lands Chang'e-5 Lunar Sample Mission on the Moon
Image: Xinhua News Agency / Contributor via Getty

Chinese state media is reporting that the Chang'e-5 lunar sample return mission has successfully landed on the Moon's surface. The mission will gather samples of Moon rocks for the first time since the 1970s and joins two other Chinese landers, one of which is currently exploring the lunar surface.

The landing was dramatic, with the live CCTV feed seemingly disappearing just minutes before the lander was supposed to make its descent to the surface. The disruption led to confusion and speculation about whether the mission was still a go on live streams watching the launch

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Soon, though, the live stream reappeared and showed footage of the Chang'e-5 lander making a successful descent to the Moon. Independent confirmation of the landing by amateur radio operators followed, as well as statements from state media. 

The Chang'e-5 lander launched on November 24 and will drill six feet down into the Moon's surface. The goal is to collect four pounds of rocks from Mons Rümker, a younger part of the Moon’s surface than has been previously explored, and return them to Earth.

Its lunar cargo is scheduled to parachute back down to Earth (specifically, Mongolia) in the middle of the month.