China's lunar probe enters Moon-Earth transfer orbit

China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe approaching the ascender on Dec 6, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe conducted its second orbital manoeuvre at 9.51am yesterday and entered the Moon-Earth transfer orbit, sources from the China National Space Administration said.

Four engines on the orbiter-returner spacecraft ignited when they were 230km away from the lunar surface and shut down after 22 minutes, the administration said in a statement.

According to real-time monitoring data, the spacecraft entered the targeted orbit successfully.

The mission of the Chang'e-5 is to bring rocks from the Moon to Earth, making China only the third country to do so, after the United States and the Soviet Union.

During its journey back to Earth later, the probe carrying the lunar samples will conduct orbital correction.

The spacecraft - comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner - was launched on Nov 24.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2020, with the headline China's lunar probe enters Moon-Earth transfer orbit. Subscribe