Home > News > Race for Moon: As China collects lunar rocks, India still plans soft-landing mission | India News

Race for Moon: As China collects lunar rocks, India still plans soft-landing mission | India News

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NEW DELHI: India’s space programme might have taken giant strides in recent years but when it comes to race for Moon, the country can take a few lessons from China. At a time Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is still trying to soft-land on Moon after a failed attempt last year, China’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft landed on the lunar surface on Tuesday and is currently busy collecting lunar rocks and soil within the 48-hour deadline in order to start its journey back home with the Moon treasure.
If Chang’e-5 lands safely in inner Mongolia region in the middle of this month with 2kg of lunar rocks, China will become the first Asian nation and third country in the world after the US and Soviet Union (now Russia) to achieve this milestone, though half a century later.
If compared, Chandrayaan-2 mission took 7 weeks to reach Moon’s orbit from Earth last year whereas Chang’e-5, which was launched on November 24 this year, covered the 384,400-km distance in just 112 hours. Chandrayaan-2 took long to reach Moon because it was using gravitational-pull method to reach the lunar orbit in order to save fuel for its orbiter’s long life.
While Isro is still planning a lander mission (Chandrayaan-3) to Moon in coming one year (early 2021) after its Vikram lander crash-landed last year, China has already started working on its international lunar research station programme. Isro is also planning a joint lunar mission with Japanese space agency JAXA after 2023. While JAXA data shows that the Japanese will be developing the overall landing module and rover, Isro will develop the lander system. However, a desi lunar mission to bring back Moon rocks is still a long way to go.
Chang’e-5 probe had finished drilling for samples by Wednesday and is now “gathering surface samples as planned”, China’s National Space Administration announced. The probe was designed to get samples both from the lunar surface and drill a two-metre-deep hole and gather specimens from an area known as Oceanus Procellarum or ‘Ocean of Storms’ — a vast lava plain — to ensure a diverse collection.
Chang’e-5 lander has a small rocket and before the sun sets on the Moon, it will blast off with the rock samples. This rocket will dock with the orbiting spacecraft for the journey back home. Nasa accomplished this feat of bringing back lunar rocks with Apollo missions as did the erstwhile Soviet Union’s Luna robotic landers during 1960-70s and the last such mission was Luna 24 in 1976.
Before the “historic” Chang’e-5 mission, China’s Chang’e-4 had touched down on the far side of Moon early last year becoming the first country to land on this unchartered territory of the Earth’s natural satellite.

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