The ascender of China’s Chang’e-5 probe successfully rendezvoused and docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit at 5:42 a.m. BJT on Sunday, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has announced.
It’s the first time that a Chinese spacecraft has carried out a rendezvous and docking in a lunar orbit, which also marked the very first human effort in automated lunar orbit rendezvous.
The samples collected on the moon weighing roughly 2 kilograms have been transferred from the ascender to the returner, said the CNSA.
Chang’e-5’s mission is one of the most complicated in Chinese aerospace history, as well as the world’s first moon sampling mission in more than 40 years.
The Chang’e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner, was launched on November 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 December 1.
The orbiter-returner will next separate from the ascender, and wait for the right time to start its journey back to Earth.
(With input from Xinhua)