Chang'e 5


Chang'e 5
Mission typeSurface sample return
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass3,780 kg (8,330 lb)[1]
Start of mission
Launch dateLate November 2020[2]
RocketLong March 5
Launch siteWenchang
End of mission
Landing siteMons Rumker region of Oceanus Procellarum[3][4]
Moon lander

Chang'e 5 (Chinese: 嫦娥五号; pinyin: Cháng'é wǔhào) is a robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission consisting of a lander and a sample-return vehicle. It is scheduled for launch in late November 2020,[5] after being postponed due to the failure of the second Long March 5 launch vehicle in 2017.[6] Chang'e 5 will be China's first sample return mission, aiming to return at least 2 kilograms of lunar soil and rock samples back to the Earth.[3] Like its predecessors, the spacecraft is named after the Chinese Moon goddess, Chang'e.

This will be the first lunar sample-return mission since Luna 24 in 1976 and – if successful – would make China the third country to return samples from the Moon after USA and USSR. It will launch from the Wenchang Satellite launch centre in Hainan.


The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program is designed to be conducted in four[7] phases of incremental technological advancement: The first was simply reaching lunar orbit, a task completed by Chang'e 1 in 2007 and Chang'e 2 in 2010. The second is landing and roving on the Moon, as Chang'e 3 did in 2013 and Chang'e 4 in 2019 (launched in December 2018, landed on the far side of the Moon in January 2019). The third phase is collecting lunar samples from the near side and sending them to Earth, a task for the future Chang'e 5 and Chang'e 6 missions. The fourth phase consists of development of a robotic research station near the Moon's south pole.[7][8][9] The program aims to facilitate a crewed lunar landing in the 2030s and possibly build an outpost near the lunar south pole.[10]

Mission profile

The probe was previously planned for launch by a Long March 5 rocket at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, but a failure of this vehicle in 2017 created uncertainty about its ability to carry Chang'e 5.[6] The spacecraft is still planned to be launched with a Long March 5 rocket, and the planned landing zone is Mons Rümker in Oceanus Procellarum, located in the northwest region of the near side of the Moon.[3][4] The location is a large, elevated volcanic mound 70 km in diameter that features a strong spectroscopic signature of basaltic lunar mare material.[11][12]

The mission is reported to consist of four modules or elements: the lander would collect about 2 kg (4.4 lb) of samples from 2 metres (6.6 ft) below the surface[4] and place them in an attached ascent vehicle that will be launched into lunar orbit. The ascent vehicle will make an automatic rendezvous and docking with an orbiter that would transfer the samples into a sample-return capsule for their delivery to Earth.[3][13]

The estimated launch mass is 3,780 kg (8,330 lb), the lander is projected to be 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) and the ascent vehicle is about 120 kg (260 lb).[1][3][14]

Chang'e 5-T1

Chang'e 5-T1 is an experimental robotic lunar mission that was launched on 23 October 2014 to conduct atmospheric re-entry tests on the capsule design planned to be used in the Chang'e 5 mission.[15][16] Its service module, called DFH-3A, remained in orbit around the Earth before being relocated via Earth-Moon L2 to lunar orbit by 13 January 2015, where it is using its remaining 800 kg of fuel to test maneuvers key to future lunar missions.[17]

Lander payload

The lander will carry landing cameras, a panoramic camera, a spectrometer to determine mineral composition, a soil gas analytical instrument, a soil composition analytical instrument, a sampling sectional thermo-detector, and a ground-penetrating radar.[3][13] For acquiring samples, it will be equipped with a robotic arm, a rotary-percussive drill, a scoop for sampling, and separation tubes to isolate individual samples.[13]


  1. ^ a b Chang'e 5 and Chang'e 6. Gunter Dirk Krebs, Gunter's Space Page. Accessed on 9 January 2019.
  2. ^ Jones, Andrew (17 September 2020). "China is quietly preparing for November launch of the Chang'e-5 lunar sample return mission". SpaceNews. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Williams, David R. (7 December 2018). "Future Chinese Lunar Missions". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Archived from the original on 2019-01-04.
  4. ^ a b c Andrew Jones (7 June 2017). "China confirms landing site for Chang'e-5 Moon sample return". GB Times. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  5. ^ "China to launch Chang'e-5 lunar probe in 2020". 2019-10-28.
  6. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (25 September 2017). "Long March 5 failure to postpone China's lunar exploration program". SpaceNews. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b Chang'e 4 press conference. CNSA, broadcast on 14 January 2019.
  8. ^ China's Planning for Deep Space Exploration and Lunar Exploration before 2030. (PDF) XU Lin, ZOU Yongliao, JIA Yingzhuo. Space Sci., 2018, 38(5): 591-592. doi:10.11728/cjss2018.05.591
  9. ^ A Tentative Plan of China to Establish a Lunar Research Station in the Next Ten Years. Zou, Yongliao; Xu, Lin; Jia, Yingzhuo. 42nd COSPAR Scientific Assembly. Held 14–22 July 2018, in Pasadena, California, USA, Abstract id. B3.1-34-18.
  10. ^ China lays out its ambitions to colonize the moon and build a "lunar palace". Echo Huang, Quartz. 26 April 2018.
  11. ^ Zhao, Jiannan; Xiao, Long; Qiao, Le; Glotch, Timothy D.; Huang, Qian (June 27, 2017). "The Mons Rümker volcanic complex of the Moon: A candidate landing site for the Chang'E-5 mission". Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. 122 (7): 1419–1442. Bibcode:2017JGRE..122.1419Z. doi:10.1002/2016je005247. ISSN 2169-9097.
  12. ^ Wöhler, C.; Lena, R.; Pau, K. C. (March 12–16, 2007). "The Lunar Dome Complex Mons Rümker: Morphometry, Rheology, and Mode of Emplacement" (PDF). Proceedings Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVIII. League City, Texas: Dordrecht, D. Reidel Publishing Co. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  13. ^ a b c "Chang'e 5 test mission". 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  14. ^ China well prepared to launch Chang e-5 lunar probe in 2017: top scientist. China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). 25 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Chinese Long March Rocket successfully launches Lunar Return Demonstrator". Spaceflight101. Oct 23, 2014. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  16. ^ "China launches test return orbiter for lunar mission". Xinhuanet. Oct 24, 2014.
  17. ^ "Chang'e 5 Test Mission Updates". Spaceflight 101. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2014.