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China's spaceship returns to earth with lunar samples in a primary for the nation

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The March 5 rocket with Chang & # 39; e 5 can be seen on the launch pad of the Wenchang Space Launch Site in Hainan. The 8.2 tonne Change 5 probe, which consists of a lander, an ascender, a service module and a return capsule, is the sixth mission of the Chinese lunar exploration program Change. The aim of the mission is to collect lunar soil and rock samples from Oceanus Procellarum and bring them back to Earth. If successful, Change 5 will be the first sample return mission since 1976.

Alexei Ivanov | TASS | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China – A Chinese spaceship with samples of the moon has blown off the moon and is preparing to return to Earth.

It is the first time China has launched a spaceship from an alien body and collects lunar samples for the first time. If the lunar samples make it back to Earth, China will only be the third country in the world to get lunar samples after efforts by the US in the 1960s and the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

At 11:10 p.m. According to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Chang & # 39; e-5 spacecraft took off from the moon in Beijing on Thursday. The spaceship was successfully placed in a predetermined orbit around the moon.

The probe will encounter a returning spacecraft to return to Earth and is expected to land in the Inner Mongolia region of China in mid-December.

China has stepped up its space efforts in recent years. President Xi Jinping urged the industry earlier this year to turn China into a "great space power," according to the state-backed China Daily.

In June, China launched the last satellite to complete Beidou, its rival with the US government's global positioning system (GPS).

And in July, China also launched an ambitious mission to Mars called Tianwen-1.

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Katherine Clark