China’s Chang’e-5 probe prepares to land on moon

China’s Chang’e-5 probe is preparing for a soft landing on the moon to undertake the country’s first collection of samples from an extraterrestrial body, it was announced on Monday.

The lander-ascender combination of the spacecraft separated from its orbiter-returner combination at around 4.40 a.m. on Monday (Beijing Time), Xinhua news agency quoted the China National Space Administration (CNSA) as saying.

Launched on November 24, Chang’e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in China’s aerospace history, as well as the world’s first moon-sample mission for more than 40 years.

The spacecraft is performing well and communication with ground control is normal, CNSA said.

The lander-ascender combination will execute a soft landing on the moon and carry out automatic sampling.

The orbiter-returner will continue orbiting about 200 km above the lunar surface and wait for rendezvous and docking with the ascender.