1st LD: China completes first spacecraft rendezvous, docking in lunar orbit


By Yu Fei

BEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The ascender of China's Chang'e-5 probe successfully rendezvoused and docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced Sunday.

This is the first time Chinese spacecraft have carried out rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit.

The samples collected on the moon have been transferred from the ascender to the returner, said the CNSA.

Chang'e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in Chinese aerospace history, as well as the world's first moon-sample mission in more than 40 years.

The Chang'e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner, was launched on Nov. 24, and its lander-ascender combination touched down on the north of the Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon on Dec. 1.

After the samples were collected and sealed, the ascender of Chang'e-5 took off from the lunar surface on Dec. 3.

Next, the orbiter-returner will separate from the ascender, and wait for the right time to return to Earth.

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