Introduction to Chang’e 5
The Chang’e 5 mission is the fifth uncrewed mission of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, which is designed to bring back lunar samples from the Moon. Named after the Chinese moon goddess Chang’e, it was launched on 24 November 2020 and is scheduled to return to Earth on 17 December 2020, making it the first mission to the moon’s surface since 1976.
Objective of Chang’e 5
The primary objective of the Chang’e 5 mission is to return lunar samples from the moon’s surface. This will the first sample return mission in over four decades, since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. In addition, the mission aims to collect information about the composition of the moon’s surface and create 3D models of its topography.
Components of the Chang’e 5
The Chang’e 5 spacecraft consists of four components – an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a re-entry module.
The Orbiter : The orbiter is designed to handle communications between the return vehicle and ground control in China.
The Lander : The lander will descend to the moon and collect samples from the lunar surface.
The Ascender : The ascender will lift off from the lunar surface with the sample and rendezvous with the orbiter.
The Re-entry Module : The re-entry module will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere upon its return journey, and will carry the samples back to Earth.
Sequence of Operations
Once all components of the Chang’e 5 spacecraft are successfully launched, the mission will proceed as follows:
Stage 1: Launch and Earth-Moon Transfer
This stage involves the launch of the spacecraft from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China, followed by a 6-day journey to the Moon.
Stage 2: Lunar Orbit and Landing
Once in lunar orbit, the spacecraft will release its lander and descend to the lunar surface at a site near the Oceanus Procellarum region. It will then collect lunar sample from the surface and deliver it to the ascender.
Stage 3: Rendezvous and Docking
Once the ascender lifts off from the Moon’s surface with the samples, it will rendezvous with the orbiter dock, after which the ascender will be discarded.
Stage 4: Earth Return and Re-entry
The re-entry module will then make its 6-day journey back to Earth, during which it will jettison the orbiter and retain the samples of lunar material. It will then enter the Earth’s atmosphere and parachute to the ground in Inner Mongolia.
Advantages of the Chang’e 5
The Chang’e 5 mission offers plenty of advantages compared to previous lunar exploration missions. These include:
-Resource Exploration : The mission will help explore resources in the solar system beyond Earth, especially those that are useful for future space exploration missions.
-Scientific Benefits : The mission offers a wealth of scientific data from the Moon, which can help improve our understanding of the origin and evolution of the Solar System.
-Technology Opportunities : The mission showcases new technologies such as independent autonomous navigation and rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit, which could be applied to more ambitious future missions.
The Chang’e 5 mission marks a significant milestone in space exploration, as the first mission to return lunar samples from the moon in over four decades. It will offer extensive scientific benefits, help explore resources in the solar system, and showcase advanced technologies for potential future applications.