Before the end of this year China plans to place a lunar lander on the moon where it will collect samples before returning to Earth.
Last accomplished 4 decades ago
The mission, known as Chang'e 5, will be the first to bring lunar material to Earth since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 spacecraft did so in 1976.
Liftoff of Chang'e 5 is scheduled to occur at the end of November, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency. The robotic craft will ride atop China's Long March-5 booster, departing from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan Province
The mission will be China's first automated moon surface sampling probe. After touching down, the lander will place lunar samples into a vessel in the ascender. Then the ascender will take off from the lunar surface to dock with the orbiter and the returner, which will be circling the moon together, and transfer the samples to the returner.
The orbiter and returner will then head back to Earth. The two craft will separate from each other far from Earth, with the returner module eventually re-entering and parachuting down to the planet's surface solo.
China's future space plans
Tian Yulong, chief engineer of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said that China is in discussion with the European Space Agency and other countries "to build bases and carry out scientific investigations on the moon, which will lay a technology and material foundation for human beings' landing on the moon in the future."