WENCHANG, Hainan, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday launched a spacecraft to collect and return samples from the moon, the country's first attempt to retrieve samples from an extraterrestrial body.
A Long March-5 rocket, carrying the Chang'e-5 spacecraft, blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of southern island province of Hainan at 4:30 a.m. (Beijing Time).
Chang'e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in China's aerospace history.
The mission will help promote China's science and technology development, and lay an important foundation for China's future manned lunar landing and deep space exploration, said Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.
Chang'e-5, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner, with a total takeoff mass of 8.2 tonnes, is expected to bring about 2 kg of lunar samples back to Earth.
The scientific goals of the Chang'e-5 mission include the investigation of the landing area to obtain the on-site analysis data related to the lunar samples, as well as systematic and long-term laboratory analysis of the lunar samples.
The landing site of Chang'e-5 will be in the northwest region of Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon. ■