China launches its historic moon mission

This photo taken on April 27, 2024, shows the combination of the Chang”e 6-moon probe and the Long March-5 Y8 launch vehicle being vertically transferred to the launch area of ​​the Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China’s Hainan province. (Photo/Xinhua)

China is set to launch its historic Chang’e 6 lunar sample return mission today at 5:27 p.m., according to the China National Space Administration.

The Long March 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle, tasked with lifting the Chang’e 6 robotic probe, is being injected with liquid oxygen into the launch tower at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, the government said in a news release. .

The rocket will send the 8.35-ton Chang’e 6, the heaviest lunar probe China has ever built, to an Earth-moon transfer trajectory to complete a complex, challenging journey of the lunar spacecraft on the far side of the moon to start. Moon.

So far, humanity has conducted ten lunar sample return missions, but all of the samples were collected from the near side of the moon, prompting scientists around the world to call for a bold attempt to bring materials from the far side of the moon , which never faces Earth.

One of the world’s most powerful operational rockets, the Long March 5 model was built by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, the country’s largest rocket manufacturer and a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The 57-meter-tall rocket has a takeoff weight of almost 870 tons and is capable of carrying spacecraft weighing up to 25 tons – the combined weight of sixteen medium-sized cars – to low Earth orbit, or 14 tons to orbit. soil. a geosynchronous transfer track.

The upcoming flight will be the second time the Long March 5 rocket model will fly a lunar mission.

The first time the rocket model was used on a lunar expedition took place in November 2020, when Chang’e 5, the country’s first lunar sample return mission, was placed on a moon-bound trajectory.