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Update, November 30: 9:30 am ET:  @CosmicPenguin tweeted a thread showing times for the Chang’e-5 events based on an image of the screen in mission control that he saw on Chinese social media.  It puts the landing on December 1 at 15:13 UTC, which would be December 1, 10:13 EST.  Here is one of his six tweets on this topic (the first in that thread specifies that times are in UTC).


Update, November 30, 9:15 am ET:  Xinhua says the lander and its ascent stage separated from the main spacecraft (orbiter and sample return capsule) Monday at 4:40 am Beijing time. It tweeted a video of the separation. It does not indicate when the landing will occur although a caption in English on the video says it will be in “December.”  If it occurs on December 1, it could be November 30  (today) Eastern Standard Time.

Update, November 29, 5:30 pm ET:  China’s CGTN reported today that the landing will be “in three days.”  That could be December 2 Eastern Standard Time (EST) though it depends on when it occurs local time in China, which is 13 hours ahead of EST.

Original Entry: China has not released a timeline of events for its lunar sample return mission Chang’e-5, which was launched on November 23. However, China space watcher @Cosmic Penguin obtained information that indicates the lunar landing is planned for November 29 about 3:30 pm EST (20:30 UTC).

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-conversation=”none” data-cards=”hidden” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>1st one is from the landing phase which I&#39;ve posted earlier, which indicates lunar landing planned on Nov. 29 maybe around 20:30 UTC. 2nd one released on CCTV today is from the capsule landing which seems to indicate landing planned on Dec. 16 after 16:30 UTC. <a href=”https://t.co/BZLD9BQPxF”>pic.twitter.com/BZLD9BQPxF</a></p>&mdash; Cosmic Penguin (@Cosmic_Penguin) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Cosmic_Penguin/status/1331994377581826049?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 26, 2020</a></blockquote>
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The Chang’e-5 spacecraft will enter lunar orbit. The lander portion will separate from the main spacecraft and land in the Ocean of Storms on the lunar surface where it will collect samples using a scoop and a drill. Then the ascent portion will lift off from the surface, rendezvous with the main spacecraft, and transfer the samples into the sample return capsule.  The main spacecraft then will depart lunar orbit for the trip back to Earth and eject the capsule, which will land in Inner Mongolia.

Those steps closely parallel how the U.S. Apollo lunar missions 50 years ago landed and returned astronauts, although in this case it will be done robotically.  No one is aboard Chang’e-5.



November 30, 2020 @ 12:01 am
December 1, 2020 @ 11:00 pm