China's top 10 sci-tech triumphs in 2020

By Xu Xiaoxuan
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# Chang'e-5 spacecraft brings home moon samples

Scientific researchers in Beijing transfer the container carrying samples from the moon, Dec. 17, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

The return capsule of China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe touched down on Earth on Dec. 17, 2020. On board were the country's first samples collected from an extraterrestrial body, as well as the first samples from the lunar surface in over four decades.

The Chang'e-5 mission was one of the most challenging and complicated journeys in China's aerospace history. The probe, comprising of an orbiter, lander, ascender and returner, was launched on Nov. 24 and retrieved 1,731 grams of moon samples after a 23-day space journey. During its voyage, the probe completed several difficult tasks, including the first lift-off from an extraterrestrial body, the first rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit, and the first high-speed re-entry with samples into the Earth's atmosphere.

According to Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of China National Space Administration, the Chang'e-5 mission not only represents a successful conclusion of China's current lunar exploration program, but also lays the foundation for future manned lunar and deep-space expeditions.

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