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    • China's national flag is seen unfurled from the Chang'e-5 spacecraft on the moon, in this handout image provided by China National Space Administration (CNSA) 4 December 2020.
    • This graphic simulation image provided by China National Space Administration shows the orbiter and returner combination of China's Chang'e-5 probe after its separation from the ascender, at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) in Beijing Sunday, 6 December 2020. The Chinese probe that landed on the moon transferred rocks to an orbiter Sunday in preparation for returning samples of the lunar surface to Earth for the first time in almost 45 years, the country's space agency announced.
    • An image taken by China's Chang'e-5 spacecraft during its landing on the moon is seen in this handout provided by China National Space Administration (CNSA).
    • China's Chang'e-5 spacecraft collects lunar samples on the moon in this handout image provided by China National Space Administration (CNSA) 3 December 2020.
    • Chang'e-5 ascender is seen from the orbiter-returner combination in this handout image provided by China National Space Administration (CNSA) 6 December 2020.
    • In this China National Space Administration (CNSA) photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a simulated image of the ascender of Chang'e-5 spacecraft blasting off from the lunar surface at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) in Beijing on 3 December 2020. The Chinese lunar probe lifted off from the moon Thursday night with a cargo of lunar samples on the first stage of its return to Earth, state media reported.
    • An image taken by Chang'e 5 spacecraft after its landing on the moon is seen in this handout provided by China National Space Administration (CNSA).
    • This combination of two pictures created and released on 6 December 2020 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows an illustration (top) and a photo (bottom) of the ascender of China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe completing rendezvous and docking with the orbiter-returner combination.
    • China's national flag is seen unfurled from the Chang'e-5 spacecraft on the moon, in this panoramic handout image provided by China National Space Administration (CNSA) 4 December 2020.
    • This image provided by China National Space Administration shows the ascender of Chang'e-5 spacecraft blasting off from the moon surface on Thursday, 3 December 2020.
    © REUTERS / CNSA
    China's national flag is seen unfurled from the Chang'e-5 spacecraft on the moon, in this handout image provided by China National Space Administration (CNSA) 4 December 2020.

    The Chang’e 5 lunar mission is China’s first-ever sample-return mission. After succeeding, it has become the first lunar sample return mission to be completed since 1976, when the Soviet Union carried out the Luna 24 robotic probe mission to the Moon.

    The Chang'e 5 ascent vehicle and orbiter spacecraft came together on 5 December and successfully carried out a docking in lunar orbit to bring home the first samples from the moon in more than 40 years, according to the China Lunar Exploration Programme.

    Re-entry and landing is expected around 17 December. After that, the samples of the lunar soil will be taken to special laboratories for a series of radiometric, isotopic, composition and other tests.

    Check out Sputnik's gallery to find out more.

    Tags:
    moon mission, Chang'e, Chang'e 5
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