Chinese capsule returns to Earth carrying moon rocks

China prepares for return of lunar probe with moon samples

Chang'e-5 completes second orbital correction on moon-Earth transfer

The Chang'e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner, was launched on November 24, and its lander-ascender combination touched down on the north of the Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon on December 1.

After flying a Chinese flag, the lander ceased operations as soon as it was used as a launch pad, which was ejected from orbit after changing models and came to rest on the surface of the moon. Its predecessor, Chang'e 4, became the first probe to land on the moon's little-explored far side and continues to send back data on conditions that could affect a future extended stay by humans on the moon.

The moon has been a particular focus of the Chinese space program, which says it plans to land humans there and possibly construct a permanent base.

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In 2003, China became the third country to send an astronaut into orbit on its own after the Soviet Union and the United States. -Soviet space race of the 1960s, which was marked by fatalities and launch failures. The China National Space Administration, typically secretive with its missions, showed growing confidence in its space program, with live broadcasts of the rocket launch and return of its sample capsule, which glowed bright white from its heat in the infrared cameras that spotted it.

The latest flight includes collaboration with the European Space Agency, which is helping to monitor the mission.

They come from a part of the moon known as the Oceanus Procellerum or Storm Ocean near the site of Mons rumbler, which was believed to be a volcano in ancient times.

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Amid concerns over the Chinese space program's secrecy and close military connections, the USA forbids co-operation between NASA and the China National Space Administration unless Congress gives its approval.

As with the 382 kilograms (842 pounds) of lunar samples brought back by USA astronauts from 1969 to 1972, they will be analyzed for age and composition and likely shared with other countries.

Personnel are securing the location of China's Chang'e-5 returner and are waiting for the ground crew to arrive.

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The 3-week-long mission was the most complicated in the history of China's robotic space exploration program, involving a lunar landing, furious scooping and drilling of up to 2 kilograms of grit, and then an ascent and rendezvous with an orbiter, which carried the samples back to Earth.

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