By Eurasia Business News – December 3, 2020
China aims to be a leader in the potentially lucrative space industry – View on the Moon, photo credit : Pexels
The landing module of the Chinese robotic mission “Chang’e-5”, having successfully drilled the soil of the Moon on December 2 to a depth of two meters, lifted samples of geological rocks and packed them in a container for the forthcoming shipment to Earth, reported the National Space Administration of China.
The Chinese landing module will also collect soil samples from the lunar surface using a manipulator robotic arm.
The lander with the take-off vehicle made a successful soft landing on December 1. Landing took place near the peak of Mons Rümker, a mountain in the Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”) in the western part of the visible side of the Moon.
As part of the mission, after landing on the moon, the module must collect about two kilograms of geological rock. The entire soil collection operation will take 48 hours.
In the meantime, the orbital module of the station with the vehicle returning to Earth is ready for docking with the take-off vehicle, which will transfer the capsule with the soil to it.
On Monday, the lander complex with a built-in take-off apparatus separated from the station, launched into a circular circumlunar orbit of the Moon with an altitude of 200 km.
The Chang’e-5 probe was launched by the Changzheng-5 (Long March 5) carrier rocket on November 23. The Chinese automatic station weighing about 8.2 tons consists of four modules, including those designed for landing on the moon, drilling the surface to a depth of two meters and extracting soil. A take-off module with a cargo for automatic docking with an orbital a module that, after taking the capsule, will then go to Earth. The landing of the descent vehicle with the capsule on Earth is planned for December 16-17 in the north of China in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The European Space Agency supports the Chang’e 5 Mission by providing tracking via ESA’s Kourou station, located in French Guiana.
If the mission succeeds, China will become the third country in the world after Russia and the United States to deliver lunar regolith to Earth and the first to implement such a project since 1976. In the frame of the missions of the Soviet automatic module “Luna” in 1970-1976, 324 grams of lunar soil were delivered to the Earth. The American astronauts who flew to the Moon in 1969-72 under the Apollo program brought 382 kg.
In December 2013, the module Chang’e 3 achieved lunar orbit and landed on the moon surface. Two years later, Chang’e 3 discovered a new type of basaltic rock, rich in ilmenite, a black mineral.
Last September, the Chinese company “Origin Space” announced its plan to launch a prototype of space asteroid mining robot in November, thanks to the Long March series rocket.
Origin Space, founded in 2017, describes itself as China’s first firm focused on the utilization of space resources. The Chinese private space sector emerged following a 2014 government decision to open up the industry.
States are now developing national laws that allow their companies and citizens to exploit the natural resources of celestial bodies. The United States paved the way with the law on the exploration and use of space resources that President Barack Obama signed in 2015. Then Luxembourg, a small country with great space ambitions, adopted a similar law in 2017 while the new United Arab Emirates space law will come into force in 2020.
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