China launched the Chang’e-5 mission on the Long March 5 rocket to retrieve moon rocks from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Province, southern China.Photo: Li Dick
China’s Chang’e-5 robotic lunar probe successfully conducted its second braking exercise on Sunday night, following the first exercise on Saturday, marking another critical phase of the mission. “Global Times” learned from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) that the spacecraft has successfully descended to a nearly circular lunar orbit.
CNSA said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Sunday night that the spacecraft performed a second braking operation at around 8:25 on Sunday night when it flew to the closest point of lunar orbit, Perilune. It moved from the previous elliptical orbit to the new lower, near circular orbit.
Braking maneuvers is one of the key orbital control measures for any lunar exploration mission. It is designed to slow down the probe and ensure that it can be captured by the lunar gravity field.
Photos: Our Space
CNSA said that before maneuvering on Sunday, the E-5 probe performed two heading corrections and one braking operation near the moon, and both reached its planned goals.
The 8.2-ton Chang’e 5 probe has four parts-an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a return capsule.
The Global Times learned from the China Academy of Aerospace Technology that the China Academy of Aerospace Technology is a subsidiary of the state-owned giant China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and the organization that designed the Chang’e 5 probe. It is divided into two parts-the orbital module with the orbiter and the return capsule and the combination of the lander and the ascender.
Photos: Our Space
The orbital module will continue to orbit the moon, while the lander-ascender combination will perform two other orbital corrections and descents before soft landing to the planned location on the moon.
The lander-riser combination will operate on the lunar surface for two days. At this stage, the ascender will merge and dock with the orbital module, and approximately two kilograms of lunar samples will be collected and packaged. The return module will be separated from the orbital module and return to its designated landing site in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of northern China.
The’E-5 probe was launched by the Y5 carrier rocket in the fifth grade of the Long March from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Province, southern China, early on Tuesday morning. According to CNSA, the entire mission will last approximately 23 days.