China’s Chang’e 5 mission has touched down on the surface of the moon, the country’s media reports. Next, the lander will drill to collect volcanic moon rock samples and scoop up some lunar dirt for return to Earth later this month.
China’s space agency launched the Chang’e 5 mission atop of one of its Long March 5 rockets on Nov. 23. The lunar-sample return marks the first such mission by any country in decades.
The landing came just before 7:15 a.m. PT on Tuesday. The gear is now expected to gather its samples and stow them in a small spacecraft atop the lander, which will then lift off in about 48 hours. After that, the ascent vehicle will transfer the samples to an orbiter now circling the moon that will transport them back