China Spacecraft Lands On Moon To Bring Rocks Back To Earth

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a screen shows the landed Chang'e-5 spacecraft and a moon surface picture, below, taken by camera aboard Chang'e-5 spacecraft during its landing process, at Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) in Beijing on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. A Chinese spacecraft landed on the moon Tuesday to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (Jin Liwang/Xinhua via AP)

(AP) – China says its spacecraft sent to return lunar rocks to Earth has collected its first samples, adding to a string of successes for Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space program.

The Chinese space agency says the Chang’e 5 probe touched down after descending from an orbiter. It says the probe has collected moon samples but gave no more details. The lander will spend about two days drilling into the lunar surface.

The probe was launched Nov. 24 from the tropical southern island of Hainan and is the latest venture by a Chinese space program that sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, has a spacecraft en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.

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