China launches ambitious mission to bring back samples from the Moon

China To Launch Chang’e-5 Lunar Probe
Photo by VCG / VCG via Getty Images

Today, China successfully launched its most ambitious mission to the Moon to date — this one designed to bring a handful of lunar rocks back to Earth before the end of the year. If successful, it’ll be the first time in nearly half a century that dirt from the Moon has been returned to Earth and the first time that China has retrieved materials from another world.

The mission, called Chang’e 5, is the latest in a long line of lunar missions that China has been conducting over the last decade. In 2013, the country made its first soft landing on the Moon with Chang’e 3, making China just one of three nations to put a spacecraft on the lunar surface. Then in December 2018, China launched Chang’e 4 and successfully put a lander and rover on…

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Author: Loren Grush