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Global Times

Update: Chang'e-5 probe brakes for 2nd time, enters lower near-circular lunar orbit

Global Times

By Deng Xiaoci Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/29 18:53:40 Last Updated: 2020/11/29 21:10:40

Update: Chang'e-5 probe brakes for 2nd time, enters lower near-circular lunar orbit

China's Chang'e-5 robotic lunar probe successfully conducted a second braking maneuver on Sunday evening, following a first on Saturday and marking another key stage in the mission. The spacecraft has successfully descended into a lower near-circular lunar orbit, the Global Times learned from the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The CNSA said in a statement it sent to the Global Times on Sunday evening that the spacecraft carried out the second braking operation around 8:25 pm on Sunday, when it traveled to the perilune, the closest point of a lunar orbit, which has brought it to a new lower near-circular orbit from the previous elliptical orbit.

The braking maneuver is one of the key orbital control measures for any lunar probe mission. It is designed to slow the probe and to ensure it can be captured by the lunar gravitational field.

Before the Sunday maneuver, the Chang'e-5 probe carried out two course corrections and a braking operation nearby Moon, all meeting planned targets, the CNSA said.

The 8.2-ton Chang'e-5 probe has four parts - orbiter, lander, ascender and return capsule.

The Global Times learned from the China Academy of Space Technology, a subsidiary of state-owned giant China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and the agency that designed the Chang'e-5 probe, that next, the probe will be separated into two parts - an orbital module with the orbiter and return capsule and a lander-ascender combination.

The orbital module will continue to orbit the moon, while the lander-ascender combination will execute another two orbit corrections and descents, before its soft landing on the planned site on the lunar surface.

The lander-ascender combination will carry out a two-day operation on the lunar surface, and about two kilograms of lunar samples will be collected and packed by the ascender at this stage before its rendezvous and docking with the orbital module. The return capsule will separate from the orbital module and return to its designated landing site in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The Chang'e-5 probe was launched by a Long March-5 Y5 carrier rocket from Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China's Hainan Province early on Tuesday. The entire mission will last around 23 days, according to the CNSA.

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