The Chinese probe Chang'e 5, which landed successfully on the Moon on Tuesday, is due to collect samples of lunar rocks.
But it is also a way for Beijing to assert itself in the space field, with the objective of sending an astronaut to the Moon by 2030.
After having struck a big blow in early 2019 by landing a machine on the far side of the Moon, a world first, China this time had a probe landed on the star with an ambitious objective: to collect samples of lunar rock.
But in addition to scientific issues, this mission also pursues very political goals for Beijing.
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The third country to bring back lunar samples
The Chang'e 5 mission must indeed bring back two kilos of rock by piercing the soil of the moon up to two meters deep, in a gray lunar landscape strewn with craters.
The Chinese probe landed in an area where traces of volcanic activity are the most recent: one to two billion years old all the same, but with rocks different from those which were brought back from the Apollo missions of the 1970s. .
The probe will only stay on the surface for 48 hours.
If the return phase goes well, China will become only the third country to bring back samples from the Moon, after the United States and Russia.
#Breaking: The Chang'e-5 successfully landed on the near side of moon, China's National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Tuesday.
- China Science (@ChinaScience) December 1, 2020
Objective: catch up with Europe, the United States and Russia
Beyond the scientific interest, the Chinese also want to test maneuvers and new technologies with the idea of sending an astronaut to the Moon by 2030. With this new mission, China wants to show that it is is a country with which we will have to reckon in the space sector.
It clearly intends to invest in its space program and catch up with Europe, the United States and Russia.