China’s Chang’e 5 probe is the start of a new era of lunar exploration

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Chang’e 5 is set to bring moon rocks back to Earth for the first time in more than four decades – and China has even more ambitious plans for lunar missions in the coming years



Space


| Leader

25 November 2020

New Scientist Default Image

WHEN it comes to space exploration, China has long taken third place. The cold war’s space race saw the US and the Soviet Union vying for firsts – satellite, human in orbit, landing on the moon – and left few records for China to claim.

That changed last year, when its uncrewed Chang’e 4 spacecraft made the first landing on the far side of the moon. Among other experiments, it contained a “lunar garden” of seedlings that went on to host the first plants (that we know of) to germinate on another world.

The Chang’e missions, named after …

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