China readies Chang’e 5 probe for Moon launch mission – how to watch?

China’s National Space Administration hopes the probe will return samples vital to understanding the origin and formation of Moon. If Chang’e-5 is successful, China will become only the third country to have retrieved lunar rock, following in the footsteps of the US and the USSR.

Named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the Moon, Chang’e-5 spacecraft will launch in a Long March 5 rocket from China’s southern Hainan province.

We will rewrite the history of the moon

China University of Geosciences’ Xiao Long planetary geologist

It has been confirmed the Chang’e-5 probe launch will be attempted between 8pm and 9pm GMT this evening (4am and 5am Beijing time on Tuesday morning).

The probe will attempt to collect 2kg of lunar samples from the unexplored Ocean of Storms area of the Moon.

The last mission of its kind occurred in 1976, conducted by the Soviet Union’s Luna 24.

This mission collected only 170 grams, while the NASA’s iconic Apollo mission returned 382kg of rocks and lunar regolith.

Space scientists hope Chang’e-5 will improve our understand how long the Moon remained volcanically active and when its magnetic field died.

How to watch the Chang’e-5 rocket launch?

China National Space Administration will live stream the Chang’e-5 Long March 5 rocket launch.

This is available directly on YouTube or in the embedded link below.

Weather permitting, the launch is expected to take place between 8pm and 9pm GMT tonight (4am and 5am local time tomorrow).

If you miss the action, you can always watch a mother live stream capturing the moment the sample is returned to Earth.

US space agency NASA has confirmed the Moon rock sample is expected parachute into the Siziwang Banner grassland of the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia in early December.

Timeline of major moments in Chinese space exploration:

July 1964: China took its first official step into space, launching and recovering an experimental biological rocket carrying white mice.

April 1970: China becomes the fifth country to send satellites into orbit with Dong Fang Hong 1, launched at the Jiuquan launch centre in the northwestern province of Gansu.

November 1975: China’s first recoverable satellite is successfully launched and returned to Earth.

November 1999: China successfully launched its first unmanned spacecraft, the Shenzhou 1, at the Jiuquan launch centre.

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October 2003: China became the third country after the US and Russia to send a man, astronaut Yang Liwei, into space with its own rocket.

October 2005: China sends two men on a five-day flight on its Shenzhou VI craft.

September 2011: China’s first space laboratory the Tiangong-1, or ‘Heavenly Palace 1’ is launched to conduct docking and orbit experiments.

December 2013: China lands an unmanned spacecraft on the moon in the first such ‘soft-landing’ since 1976.

September 2016:China launches Tiangong 2, its second experimental space laboratory as part of its plan to have a permanently manned space station in service by 2022.

January 2019: The Chang’e-4 lunar probe, launched successfully arrives at the far side of the Moon.

July 2020: China launches an unmanned probe to Mars in its first independent mission to another planet.

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