A lander from the space probe Chang'e 5 has "successfully" touched down on the surface of the moon, according to Chinese media. The mission aims to bring the first lunar samples in more than 40 years back to Earth.
China successfully landed its unmanned Chang'e 5 probe on the surface of the moon on Tuesday, according to Chinese state media.
The probe "successfully landed on the moon in the pre-selected landing area," the official China News Service reported, citing space officials.
Technical personnel at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center monitor Chang'e 5 as it nears the lunar surface
The historic mission, which was launched on November 24, aims to retrieve lunar surface samples to help scientists learn more about the moon's origins. Chang'e 5 is the first sample-return assignment from the moon since 1976.
That mission 44 years ago saw the Soviet Union's Luna 24 come back with about 170 grams (6 ounces) of material but Chang'e 5, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, is planning to drill into the lunar surface and load 2 kilograms of rocks and debris before returning to earth.
The Chinese space program has been gathering pace over the last two decades. In 2003, China became the third nation, after the United States and Russia (and formerly the USSR), to launch a human into space. Beijing has been expanding its program ever since with ambitions to eventually send a manned operation to the lunar surface.
jsi/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)