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China Gets A Step Closer To Their Lunar Sample Return Mission

Illustration for article titled China Gets A Step Closer To Their Lunar Sample Return Mission

China's Chang'e 5 test vehicle has successfully completed the most recent stage of its lunar return technology demonstration. Launched on October 24th, the spacecraft swung around the far side of the moon, snapped a gorgeous photo of home, and safely returned to Earth on Halloween.

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Top image: Chang'e 5 launch on October 24, 2014. Credit: Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing

Illustration for article titled China Gets A Step Closer To Their Lunar Sample Return Mission
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The Chang'e 5 spacecraft launched on October 24, swinging up and around the moon, and returning to Earth on October 31.

The Chang'e spacecraft series are part of a series of missions of increasing difficulty with the ultimate end-objective of performing a lunar sample return. The primary purpose of this specific mission was to test out the vehicle in operational conditions. The same vehicle model will be used for the eventual lunar sample return mission in a few years. The Chang'e spacecraft series are named for Chang'e, the Chinese moon goddess.

Illustration for article titled China Gets A Step Closer To Their Lunar Sample Return Mission

Scientists checking on Chang'e 5 spacecraft after landing on October 31, 2014. Image credit: Xinhua

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Only the sample return module came back to Earth: the service module reached a gravitationally-stable Lagrange point and is hanging out in space.

This is a impressive moment of victory amongst the catastrophes plaguing spaceflight this week. Unlike the style of North American spaceflight programs, footage of Chinese space agency launches are not broadcast live.

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Illustration for article titled China Gets A Step Closer To Their Lunar Sample Return Mission

Chang'e 5 T1 launch. Image credit: Xinhua

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DISCUSSION

smorgasborg
Smorgasborg

I love how every rocket has its own personality on launch. The different engines, propellants, and technologies used create a unique "signature" that sets each rocket type apart from every other. I really love the orange glow here! Perfectly appropriate for Halloween.