Images from the Beijing Aerospace Control Center show the Saturday orbit transfer projection of the Chang’e-5 lunar probe. Photo: CNSA
Having traveled around moon for about six days, the orbital module of China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe executed on Saturday its first lunar-Earth transfer projection, shifting its flight path from near-circular orbit to a higher elliptical orbit, Global Times learned from the China National Space Administration.
The perilune, the closest point of the new elliptical lunar orbit of the orbiter- reentry capsule combination of the spacecraft, is about 200 kilometers above moon surface, the CNSA told the Global Times on Saturday.
The projection, a lunar orbit maneuver, aimed to enable the orbital module to enter lunar-Earth transfer orbit.
Carrying about 2-kilogram lunar materials, the combination of orbiter and reentry capsule will conduct another such projection maneuver to break free from moon gravitation force and then enter lunar-Earth transfer orbit to go on its journey back to home planet of Earth.
Before the Saturday development, the probe’s ascender successfully docked with the orbital module in lunar orbit on December 6, some 380,000 kilometers from the Earth, and later completed the lunar sample transfer from the ascender to the reentry capsule.
China launched the ambitious moon material returning Chang’e-5 lunar probe, the latest of its increasingly complex moon exploration missions, on November 24, and the whole mission would take around 23 days, according to the CNSA.