Heading home – Chang’e-5 orbiter/returner
Credit: CCTV/CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

 

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) reports that the Chang’e-5 orbiter/returner spacecraft has carried out an orbital maneuver around the Moon, preparing to leave lunar orbit for a trajectory that returns it to Earth.

Following roughly six days in lunar orbit, the orbiter/returner combination completed the movement on Saturday, the first trans-Earth injection maneuver, at 09:54 (Beijing Time), changing from a nearly circular orbit to an elliptical orbit with a perilune (low point) altitude of 124 miles (200 kilometers).

Escape trajectory

Next up for the orbiter/returner combination is another orbital maneuver to escape lunar gravity and enter the Moon-Earth transfer orbit to return to Earth.

China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission will attempt to haul back to Earth samples of the Moon.
Credit: CNSA/CLEP

The Chang’e-5 mission consists of an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner. It was launched on November 24. Its lander/ascender combination touched down north of Mons Rümker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the Moon on December 1st.

Return capsule expected to touch down within Siziwang Banner in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in mid-December.
Credit: CCTV/CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

 

 

Stashed within a return capsule – roughly 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of precious lunar samples. The capsule is expected to land at the Siziwang Banner in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in mid-December.

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