China is attempting its most complex and ambitious space mission to date with the launch of its Chang’e-5 spacecraft, which will attempt to do something that has not been done since the 1970s: bring pristine pieces of the moon back to Earth.
On November 23 at around 3:30 p.m. ET, a Long March 5 rocket lifted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, on the coast of China’s Hainan Island, carrying the 8.2-ton spacecraft. After separating from the rocket, Chang’e-5 will use its own thrusters to make the estimated four-day trip to the moon. The spacecraft will then release a lander that will touch down near a volcanic mound called Mons Rümker in the northwest region of the lunar near side. There,