12:18 GMT18 January 2021
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    The Chang'e 5 is a part of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Programme, named after the mythological goddess of the Moon who is known for stealing an elixir of immortality from her husband and escaping to the Moon. China started developing the project in 2003, and four years later its first spacecraft was launched on 24 October 2007.

    China's Chang'e 5 probe has completed its orbital manoeuvre and is now approaching the flight path that will lead it to Earth, the Xinhua news agency quoted the China National Space Agency as saying.

    After spending six days in the lunar orbit and collecting samples from the surface of the Moon, the Chinese probe is expected to return in mid-December and land in northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

    China National Space Agency / screenshot
    The picture presents the Chang'e 5 probe moving along the lunar orbit

    The mission was launched on 24 November. Chang'e 5 is China's first successful lunar docking mission and has the potential to be the first to bring Moon samples back to the country. The Chinese government initiated a series of space exploration programmes in the 1950s, as a reaction to the rapid development of space technologies in the USSR and the US.    

    lunar probe, Space Exploration, China, Chang'e 5, China space program
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