China has just placed its Long March-5 carrier in place in preparation for launching a mission to bring materials back from the moon for the first time in forty years.
The Long March-5 was transported into position from its hangar to the nearby launch site at the Wenchang space base along the coast of the southern province of Hainan Island. The launch of China's Chang'e 5 lunar mission is expected early next week. China will place a lander on the moon, which will pierce the surface two meters and collect rocks and other debris to bring to earth.
For the first time since the US and Russian missions of the 60s and 70s, scientists will be able to study newly obtained lunar materials.
The Chinese Lunar Mission Chang'e 5
The Chinese lunar mission, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is among the most ambitious in China. The Chinese space program has been running ever since it sent a man into space for the first time in 2003. IS from the announcement only a year has passed for this new Chinese lunar mission.
China currently has a scheduled mission to Mars. And it has already placed a rover on the far side of the moon that is providing the first comprehensive measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface. Vital information for any country planning to send astronauts to the moon.
US law prevents the Chinese from cooperating with NASA. China is therefore excluded from the partnership with the International Space Station. This prompted her to work on her own space station and launch her own programs which put her in constant competition with Japan and India among Asian nations seeking to achieve new heights in space.
The Chinese lunar mission has proceeded cautiously, but has experienced relatively few setbacks in recent years. The Long March-5, nicknamed "Fat 5" due to its bulky shape, failed in a previous launch attempt. The huge economic investment and a pool of technical and engineering talents from China seems to have made it possible to overcome most of the obstacles.