China gears up for lunar mission after round-trip success

The head of China's lunar probe program has called for a thorough analysis of data collected from the test lunar orbiter, which returned on Saturday, to speed up work on Chang'e-5, the star of the 2017 lunar mission.
With the test lunar orbiter landing early on Saturday in north China after an eight-day flight, China joined the Soviet Union and the United States and became the third nation to realise a return mission to the Moon. 

“The mission was realised with stable flight and precision in launch timing, orbit entry, recovery, and all pre-set goals were achieved,” said Xu Daze, also head of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, on Sunday at a ceremony for the reception of the orbiter.

According to Xu, the mission marked a breakthrough in the third and final phase of the lunar schedule – orbiting, landing and return – and had heighened understanding of high-velocity re-entry mechanisms, development of new materials and innovative space equipment design. Chang'e-5 will collect samples from the lunar surface in a mission planned for 2017.

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