44 years after Luna 24 another space mission tries to bring moon samples from our cosmic neighbor back to Earth. Read about China’s Chang’e 5.
China already send their Mars flagship Tianwen with a Orbiter, Lander and rover this summer to mars. The landing is planned for early 2021. But they want to achieve another big step in space in this year: 44 years after soviet spacecraft Luna 24 brought samples from our neighbor Moon back to Earth the young spaceflight nation China wants to do this, too. The USA who went six times with humans to the moon surface didn’t tried a robotic sample return mission yet. So Info Shymkent want to have a deeper look on this space mission.
The flight plan of Chang’e 5
Passed events of Chang’e 5
23th November (Launch and flight to Moon):
- The was around 20:30 UTC on November 23 (02:30 Almaty time on November 24).
- China’s tallest (57m height) and strongest (9,600 kN) rocket Long March 5 (LM-5) / Chang Zheng 5 (CZ-5) brought Chang’e-5 into earth orbit.
- The second stage of LM-5 initiated the Trans-Lunar-Injection (TLI) to send the spacecraft to the moon. The flight time will be around 112 hours / 4.6 days to the moon.
24th November (1st flight correction maneuver):
- The 1st trajectory correction maneuver was performed by 3000 Newton strong main engine and happend at 14:06 UTC and lasted for 2 seconds.
- All systems are in good health.
- Chang’e-5 is already 160,000 km away from Earth.
25th November (2nd flight correction maneuver):
- The 2nd trajectory correction maneuver was performed by two 150 Newton engines and happend at 14:06 UTC and lasted for another 2 seconds.
- Chang’e-5 is now 270,000 km away from Earth.
27th November (Sunset over landing site):
- The Sunrise over the planned landing site Mons Rümker is ongoing.
Upcoming events of Chang’e 5
28th November (Chang’e 5 arrival at Moon):
- Close to the Moon – planned at 28th November 14:45 UTC – will be the Lunar Orbit Injection (LOI) to bring Chang’e-5 in a 200 km orbit around the moon.
30th November (Chang’e 5 landing attempt):
- It’s planned to land Chang’e-5 on 30th November 20:30 UTC but the descent and landing of lander begins when orbit is perfect. That means a orbit with 217 km above moon surface and a inclination of 45.7°. The orbiter and earth return vehicle remains in orbit.
- Lander will soft land in Mons Rümker region and will take samples by drill machine and a Excavator arm. Three parts of the samples are from Excavator arm, one part will be soil from drill machine.
- The lander will stay for two earth days on the lunar surface and will also make a panorma picture of the lunar surface. The probes will transfer into the ascent vehicle.
2nd December (Ascent and docking):
- The ascent vehicle of Chang’e 5 will launch from lunar surface and will launch into 15 × 180km orbit around the moon.
- Two days are planned for the rendezvous between the orbiter and the ascent vehicle.
4th-10th December (Waiting for Return):
- To get the correct flight path back to earth, the orbiter with the samles on-board is waiting six days in moon orbit.
10th-11th December (Return to Earth):
- After 6 days in the lunar orbit the orbiter is initiating the Trans-Earth Injection (TEI) with it’s main engine.
- The flight needs 112 hours for the flight back to Earth, again.
15th-16th December (Landing on Earth):
- Reentry capsule separates from the orbiter 5000 km away from Earth.
- Entry and landing in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia under parachute.
- The sealed samples will then be delivered to a laboratory in Beijing for further analysis.
What happened if Chang’e-5 is not successful?
China build already a backup of Chang’e-5 if something goes wrong. The Chang’e-6 (CE-6) probe was produced at the same time. But if everything will be a success – the CE-6 can be part of a mission to land at the lunar south pole and return probes from this interesting place.
Facts about Chang’e-5
- Meaning of the Name: Chang’e-5 / 嫦娥五号 (Meaning: Name of the Chinese goddess of the Moon)
- Total weight: 8.2 tonnes (5.45 tonnes fuel)
- Propulsion / positioning control: 6 types of engines 7500, 3000, 150, 120, 25 and 10 Newton (Overall: 77 engines)
- Planned moon sample mass: 2 kg (One-third: Core probes from Drilling machine; two-thirds: moon soil taken by excavator arm)
- Launch vehicle: Long March 5 / Chang Zheng 5 (CZ-5)
- Planned mission duration: 23 days
- Science equipment on lander:
- Landing camera (for autonomous landing)
- Panoramic Camera (PCAM)
- Lunar Mineralogical Spectrometer (LMS)
- Lunar soil gas analyzer
- Lunar Regolith Penetrating Radar (LRPR)
- Drilling machine and excavator arm
Why did China choose Mons Rümker as landing site?
Mons Rümker is located in Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms) – but its a very calm area. The area around Mons Rümker is very very flat and with less craters. This is one criteria to choose this place. Another one is that Mons Rümker was a Volcano and the ground in this area is volcanic origin. Chinese expect to find here very young basalt of the moon. The age could be 1.21 billion years old. The samples from the manned Apollo mission were between 3.1 and 4.4 billion years old.
How to find the landing site
During the 28th/29th November it’s worth to watch the moon at the night sky. The moon is close to become a full moon. In the terminator (the place between night and daylight on the moon – or the ongoing sunset) you can find the Chang’e-5 landing site. The photo below will assist you:
We wish China a great and successful mission to the moon and back. We will inform our readers about further information on our social media channels. Stay tuned!
Read more about Space on Info Shymkent:
- Interview with One-Year-Mission Cosmonaut Kornienko
- International Space Race to Mars
- ISS: 20 years human presence in Space
- Interview with Jonk about Forgotten Burans in Baikonur
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