China plans to launch the ambitious Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission later in 2020. (Image credit: Used with permission: Loren Roberts/The Planetary Society at

China appears on track to launch the Chang’e-5 sample-return mission to the Moon later this year.

That venture represents the third phase of China’s lunar exploration project – returning samples from the Moon.

Part of China’s lunar sample receiving laboratory.
Credit: G. L. Zhang, et al.

If successful, China would become the third nation to haul back to Earth lunar collectibles.

Moonwalking geologist, Apollo 17’s Jack Schmitt.
Credit: NASA


The former Soviet Union did so by robotic means in the 1970s. During 1969-1972, six Apollo missions placed 12 moonwalkers on the Moon that gathered 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of lunar samples at different landing sites on the lunar surface. The stash included rocks, core samples, lunar soil and dust.

Credit: NASA



The Chang’e-5 mission is comprised of four parts including the orbiter, ascender, lander, and Earth reentry module containing the lunar specimens. In many ways, the robotic milestones required for this phase of China’s lunar exploration initiative mirror those of the Apollo human landing program.









Please go to my newly posted story:

China wants a piece of the moon. Here’s how it plans to handle lunar samples.

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