China — CNSA
Chang’e 5: Lunar Landing

Mission Details

Mission Name: Chang’e 5
Mission Type: Lunar Lander
Operator: CNSA (China National Space Administration)
Launching State: China
Location: Precise location unknown or undisclosed.
Latitude: N/A
Longitude: N/A
Launch Date: 23 November 2020, 20:30 UT
Landing Date: 1 December 2020, 15:11 UTC
Objects on or Related to Site:
Chang’e 5 Lander
Chang’e 5 Ascent Stage
Image Source: National Astronomical Observatories of China


The mission of Chang’e 5 was to return a lunar sample to Earth.

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Heritage Consideration

Chang’e 5 returned the youngest-ever Moon samples to Earth. The specific landing site may have rocks and soil that are just 1.2 billion years old, far younger than the samples returned by the Apollo missions, which ranged between 3.1 and 4.4 billion years old.

Object on or Related to Site

Object Name: Chang’e 5 Lander
Cospar: 202-087A
Norad: N/A
Location: Mons Rümker in Oceanus Procellarum. 43.1°N, 51.8°W
Launch Date: 23 November 2020, 20:30 UT
Landing Date: 1 December 2020, 15:11 UTC
Deployment: N/A
End Date: 3 December 2020
Function: The lander stage, derived from the Chang’e 3 lander, landed on the lunar surface and dug and collected a lunar sample from 2 meters below the surface. The sample was then transfered to the ascent stage on top of the lander. The lander also carried landing cameras, optical cameras, a mineral spectrometer, a soil gas analytical instrument, a soil composition analytical instrument, a sampling sectional thermodetector, and a robotic drilling rig.
Image Source: National Astronomical Observatories of China


The Chang’e 5 mission consisted of four parts:

  1. The orbiter stage, which provides lunar orbit insertion. It houses the return capsule and returned it to Earth at the end of the mission.
  2. The reentry module, a capsule designed for high-speed atmospheric reentry.
  3. The lander stage.
  4. The ascent stage which lifted off with the samples and then rendezvoused with the orbiter stage in lunar orbit, where the samples were transfered to the reentry module.

The lunar landing mission is named for the ancient Chinese goddess of the Moon. It collected about 61.1 oz. of lunar material from the surface and returned it to Earth. It is the first robotic sample return mission to the Moon since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. Chang’e-5’s lander is solar-powered.

It collected samples using both a scoop and a drill. The lander and ascender landed on the Moon on 1 December 2020 at 15:11 UTC.

The mission’s landing zone was near Mons Rümker in Oceanus Procellarum, located in the northwest region of the Moon’s near side. This area contains geological units around 1.21 billion years old, compared to the Apollo samples that were between 3.1 and 4.4 billion years old. The location is a large, elevated volcanic mound 70 km in diameter that features a strong spectroscopic signature of basaltic lunar mare material.

The smooth volcanic plain was also visited by the Apollo 12 mission in 1969.

Object on or Related to Site

Object Name: Chang’e 5 Ascent Stage
Cospar: N/A
Norad: N/A
Location: ~30°S, 0°E
Launch Date: 23 November 2020, 20:30 U
Landing Date: 7 December 2020, 23:30 UTC
Deployment: N/A
End Date: N/A
Function: The ascent stage lifted off the lunar surface with samples that were transferred to an orbiting spacecraft.
Image Source: National Astronomical Observatories of China


On 3 December 2020, the ascender lifted off from Oceanus Procellarum at 15:10 UTC and, six minutes later, achieved lunar orbit.

The ascender docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit on 5 December 2020 at 21:42 UTC, and the samples were transferred to the return capsule at 22:12 UTC. Undocking of the ascender from the orbiter-returner combination took place on 6 December 2020 at 04:35 UTC.

After completing its role in the mission, the ascender was commanded to deorbit on 7 December 2020 at 22:59 UTC, and crashed into the Moon’s surface at 23:30 UTC, in the area of (~30°S, 0°E). On 13 December 2020 at 01:51 UTC, from a distance of 230 kilometers from the lunar surface, the orbiter and returner successfully fired four engines to enter the moon-Earth Hohmann Transfer orbit. On 15 December 2020, the return capsule landed back on Earth.

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