China spaceship Chang’e-5 has cleared a decisive hurdle on its way back to Earth.
An unmanned docking maneuver was achieved for the first time at a distance of 380,000 kilometres. Researchers are now eagerly awaiting rock samples from the moon.
After its unmanned moon landing, China succeeded in the first robot-controlled docking maneuver of a spaceship in orbit around the earth’s satellite. The ascent stage of the spaceship “Chang’e 5” named after the Chinese moon goddess successfully docked with the orbiter on Sunday morning, as the official Xinhua news agency reported.
China succeeds in docking maneuvers with capsule
Around two kilograms of lunar rock, which are to be returned to earth, were then safely stowed in the return capsule. Then the module came off again.
China wants to bring rock samples from the moon to earth. The maneuver was considered to be one of the most difficult steps on the flight back to Earth. China has already made several rendezvous with its spaceships in orbit, but never before at a distance of 380,000 kilometers.
After the manned moon landings in the USA in the 60s and 70s, it is also the first time that a docking maneuver in the moon orbit has been successful without an astronaut.
In the next step of the Chinese moon flight, the return capsule will separate from the ascent stage and wait for the right time to return to Earth, as Xinhua reported. The landing is expected in Inner Mongolia in mid-December.
China’s moon mission is another important step in the ambitious space program. The young space nation wants to gain experience with which a manned landing on the moon can succeed in the future.
“Chang’e 5” was launched on November 23rd German time from the space station in Wenchang on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. On December 1, the lander touched down in a volcanic area named after the German astronomer Karl Rümker (1788-1862).