Chang’e-5 lunar sample mission is readied by technicians for possible late November takeoff.
Credit: CCTV via Andrew Jones

The Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site located in Wenchang City of south China’s Hainan Province is ramping up preparations for the launch of the Chang’e-5 lunar probe.

The reported preferred candidate landing region for China’s next robotic mission is the Rümker region, located in the northern Oceanus Procellarum. The touchdown area is geologically complex and known for its volcanic activity.

Apollo 15 image captures landing locale of China’s Chang’e-5 Moon lander – the Mons Rümker region in the northern part of Oceanus Procellarum.
Credit: NASA

The robotic mission goal is to land on the Moon then haul back to Earth some 4 pounds (2 kilograms) of lunar regolith, possibly from as deep as 6.5 feet (2 meters) below the Moon’s surface.

Back in 2014, China’s Chang’e 5-T1 served as a test flight to validate the atmospheric re-entry design of the sample return capsule that will carry lunar collectibles.

Wenchang sendoff

Meanwhile, the pace is picking up in readying the Long March-5 rocket to hurl Chang’e-5 to the Moon.

China’s Chang’e-5 robotic sample return mission.

At present, the first stage and the interstage section of the Long March-5 carrier rocket are being tested, according to China Central Television (CCTV). The remaining parts of the booster will be transported by sea and land will then be assembled.

Wenchang is the youngest and the first coastal space launch site in China, among China’s four space launch sites.

Following a circumlunar voyage in 2014, a return capsule parachuted to Earth. This test was a prelude to China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission being readied for its return sample mission now scheduled for 2020.
Courtesy: China Space

Ambitious venture

China is preparing the Chang’e-5 lunar mission for liftoff, perhaps toward the end of November. This ambitious venture is focused on collecting and returning lunar specimens back to Earth by robotic means – a task last done in 1976 by the former Soviet Union.

The Chang’e-5 mission is comprised of four parts: the orbiter, lander, ascender, and Earth reentry module containing the lunar specimens.

China plans to launch the ambitious Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission later this year. (Image credit: Used with permission: Loren Roberts/The Planetary Society at

In many ways, but on a smaller scale, Chang’e-5’s step-by-step trek mirror those of the Apollo human landing program architecture– suggesting a scalable approach to planting Chinese footprints on the Moon.

If the mission is successful, China would become the third nation to grab, stash, and haul back to Earth select lunar samples.

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